Giffords stands by as husband speaks to shooter

Giffords stands by as husband speaks to shooter

Giffords stands by as husband speaks to shooter

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by Jacques Billeaud / The Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 12 at 3:37 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spoke to the man who shot her, as she stood by his side.
 
Former astronaut Mark Kelly spoke directly to Jared Loughner, saying he changed his wife's life forever but couldn't dent her spirit.
 
It was the first time Giffords came face-to-face with Loughner. She did not speak.
 
Giffords and Kelly walked slowly to the podium, Giffords appearing to struggle with her steps.
 
Loughner is being sentenced to life in prison for killing six people and wounding many more, including Giffords, in the January 2011 attack in Tucson, Ariz.

Susan Hileman was among the victims testifying Thursday at the sentencing hearing. She was shot three times at the Arizona political event for Giffords outside a grocery store. She scolded the suspect, staring him down in court while visibly shaking.

Hileman kept glancing back at Loughner as she spoke to the court, and he looked at her. Loughner's parents had their heads down as Hileman said Loughner's parents, college and community had failed Loughner.

Loughner's mother, Amy, could be seen sobbing.

Loughner declined to speak at his sentencing.

Loughner pleaded guilty three months ago to 19 federal charges under an agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The deal calls for the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.

Both sides reached the deal after a judge declared that Loughner was able to understand the charges against him. After the shooting, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent forcible psychotropic drug treatments.

Some victims, including Giffords, welcomed the deal as a way to move on. It spared victims and their families from having to go through a potentially lengthy and traumatic trial and locks up the defendant for life.

Christina Pietz, the court-appointed psychologist who treated Loughner, had warned that although Loughner was competent to plead guilty, he remained severely mentally ill and his condition could deteriorate under the stress of a trial.

When Loughner first arrived at a Missouri prison facility for treatment, he was convinced Giffords was dead, even though he was shown a video of the shooting. He eventually realized she was alive after he was forcibly medicated.

It's unclear where Loughner will be sent to serve his federal sentence. He could return to a prison medical facility like the one in Springfield, Mo., where he's been treated for more than a year. Or he could end up in a prison such as the federal lockup in Florence, Colo., that houses some of the country's most notorious criminals, including Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

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