A man whose 2011 shooting rampage killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was ordered Thursday to serve seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years in federal.
Jared Lee Loughner, 24, pleaded guilty under an agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. He avoids a federal death sentence, although state prosecutors could still decide to try him.
Giffords, partially blind, her right arm paralyzed and limp, came face to face Loughner at the sentencing, standing beside her husband as he spoke of her struggles to recover from being shot in the head.
"Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered," said astronaut Mark Kelly, both he and his wife staring at the shooter inside a packed courtroom. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at."
One by one, survivors of the attack at a Giffords political event approached the courtroom podium to address Loughner, each turning toward him where he sat stoic and emotionless at a table with his attorneys.
"You took away my life, my love and my reason for living," said Mavanell Stoddard, who was shot three times and cradled her dying husband in her arms as he lay bleeding on the sidewalk after shielding her from the spray of bullets.
Some victims, including Giffords, welcomed the plea deal as a way to move on. It spared them and their families from having to go through a potentially lengthy and traumatic trial and locks up the defendant for life.
Giffords didn't speak, but stood by Kelly and kissed her husband when he was done. He grabbed her hand and they walked away, her limping.
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