Victims to address Giffords’s shooter at sentencing hearing

The victims of a 2011 shooting rampage that left six dead and injured 13, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), will have the opportunity to address gunman Jared Lee Loughner on Thursday at his sentencing hearing.

The Associated Press reports that a handful of victims and their family members plan to speak at the sentencing.

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Loughner shot Giffords in the head at a political event in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011. Giffords survived but stepped down from Congress late last year to focus on her recovery.

The 24-year-old Loughner, who is receiving treatment for schizophrenia, pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison, according to a plea deal struck after a judge declared Loughner was able to understand the charges against him.

Giffords’s husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, said that he and his wife had been in contact with prosecutors in the case and approved of the deal. Politico, citing an anonymous source close to the family, reported Thursday that Giffords and Kelly would be in the courtroom and plan to address Loughner.

Giffords, who has become a national symbol for bipartisan cooperation, made her last public appearance at the Democratic National Convention in early September.