WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jared Loughner, who seriously wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others in a shooting spree in January 2011, was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences and 140 years. Now retired from Congress due to her injuries, Giffords (D-Ariz.), had her first encounter with Loughner, 24, since the shooting at a Tucson shopping center. She attended the sentencing hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in that city.
Among those who gave victim impact statements was her husband, Mark Kelly, a former astronaut. “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,” he said with Giffords standing at his side. “Gabby would gladly trade her own life to bring back those you savagely murdered on that day.”
Kelly also called for increased gun control. When he finished, Giffords kissed her husband and they returned to their seats, according to a CBS News report.
Loughner accepted the sentence as part of a plea deal that removed 30 charges.
Giffords has yet to fully recover from a head wound. The first Jewish woman elected to Congress from the state, Giffords stepped down earlier this year.
Ron Barber, an aide to Giffords who was wounded in the attack, also delivered a statement.
Barber was elected to her seat in a special election in June. He ran for reelection on Tuesday and was trailing by 400 votes in a race that was still too close to call two days later.