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Jared Lee Loughner, the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others last year in Tucson, AZ, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after confronting his victims for the first time since the incident.
Loughner’s sentence of 7 life terms, plus 140 years brings an end to a painful chapter in the lives of those impacted by the tragedy. Each of the life terms represents one of the six people Loughner killed. The seventh was given for his attempt to kill a congresswoman.
“The sentence I’ve just imposed means Mr. Loughner will never step out of prison,” said U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.
When Giffords confronted the Loughner for the first time she stood and looked directly at her would-be assassin. Giffords husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, explained how the bullet shot damaged his wife’s life.
The hearing was not televised, but people in the courtroom were allowed to tweet, which kept many glued to twitter for updates throughout the proceedings.
Loughner also injured 12 in the shooting and he said nothing to the victims that confronted him. Some of them were forgiving, while others were quite the opposite, according to several tweets from reporters.
The facts in the case were never in doubt. Loughner was the only suspect. The key issue in court was on whether he would avoid the death penalty because of his mental health. After the shooting, Loughner was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns, who presided over the proceedings, had previously ruled Loughner was capable of understanding the charges against him. A plea agreement followed that was designed to ensure Loughner would spend the rest of his life in prison without possibility of parole.
Three months ago, Loughner also pleaded guilty to attempted assassination of a member of Congress for shooting Giffords and various counts of attempted murder and injuring a person at a federal event.