The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 8, 2012

Arizona shooter Loughner sentenced to life in prison

— The man who pleaded guilty to a deadly Arizona shooting rampage that wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns sentenced 24-year-old Jared Lee Loughner for the January 2011 attack that left six people dead and Giffords and others wounded.

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

The hearing marked the first time victims — including Giffords — could confront Loughner in court.

Her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, did all the talking for her, as the couple looked at Loughner and told him how his deadly rampage at the former congresswoman's political meeting had upended her life.

"Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered," Kelly said. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at."

Loughner showed no emotion, and looked at the other victims. His mother sobbed nearby.

"Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place," Kelly said.

Giffords kissed Kelly when he was done. He grabbed her hand and they walked away, with her limping.

Earlier, Loughner told Burns that he will not be speaking at the hearing.

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.

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.

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