Giffords confronts her shooter in court: 'Done thinking about you'

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband confronted the man who nearly took her life at an emotional court session on Thursday in Arizona.

Giffords’s husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, directly addressed Jared Lee Loughner about his actions in the shooting rampage that killed six people and wounded 13 others.

"By making death and producing tragedy, you sought to extinguish the beauty of life, to diminish potential, to strain love and to cancel ideas. You tried to create a world as dark and evil as your own," Kelly said to Loughner. "Remember this: You failed."

"Gabby and I are done thinking about you," he said.

Giffords was seated in the courtroom and reportedly kept a fixed stare on Loughner as her husband read their statement. Loughner waived his right to address the court at the beginning of the hearing.

Kelly spoke alongside other people affected by the January 2011 shooting, which took place outside a Safeway store in Tucson, Ariz., as Giffords was meeting with constituents.

He talked of his wife’s struggle to recover from the gunshot that Loughner delivered to her head, noting that Giffords is partially blind and remains unable to fully use her right arm.

"Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day," Kelly said. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at.”

"You may have put a bullet through her head,” Kelly said, “but you haven't put a dent in her spirit.”

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Loughner, who continues to receive treatment for schizophrenia, pleaded guilty on 19 counts related to the shooting and will serve a life term in prison under the terms of a plea agreement. 

He was sentenced to seven life sentences plus 140 years in prison. U.S. District Court Larry Burns also sentenced him to stay on his medication for the rest of his life and ordered his return to a federal hospital prison in Springfield, Mo.

Earlier in the court session, Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), who was also injured during the shooting and later succeeded Giffords in Congress, said he'd never forget seeing Gabe Zimmerman, who was a staffer for the congresswoman, die during the rampage. 

Barber also mentioned Giffords, saying, "you did not take away her determination, compassion, and will to serve.”

Others also delivered statements, including relatives of the victims. One of the most cutting remarks came from Mavanell Stoddard, whose husband died during the shooting. 

"You forgot to shoot yourself," she said to Loughner.


A number of victims also delivered statements at a press conference after the hearing.

Barber stressed that he and his family were in "full agreement" on Loughner's sentencing. 

"I and many others have physical and mental wounds that will be with us for the rest of our lives," Barber said. "My family has suffered greatly and our lives are forever changed. Six families have lost loved ones and their hearts will ache for as long as they live."

Barber also recounted witnessing Zimmerman's death.

"I'll never forget seeing one of my dearest colleagues die at my side. I young man I worked with closely every day for five years," Barber said. "He was my go-to guy and a human being with so much compassion and a great commitment to service."

President Obama's attorney general praised the prosecution's handling of the Loughner case. 

"Today’s sentence — life in prison without the possibility of release — means Jared Loughner will never again be free to hurt or menace the American public," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. 

"For the victims, their families and the larger community impacted by this tragic event in our nation’s history, it is my sincere hope that this conclusion will help in their journey toward physical and emotional recovery."

— This story was updated at 4:26 p.m.