Gabrielle Giffords Attends Sentencing Of Tucson Rampage Assailant

by
Reuters
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords watched in a federal courtroom on Thursday as the man convicted of killing six people and wounding 13 others, herself included, was to be sentenced for his crimes.

* Convicted gunman Jared Loughner expected to received seven life terms

* Former congresswoman's husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, to address court

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords watched in a federal courtroom on Thursday as the man convicted of killing six people and wounding 13 others, herself included, was to be sentenced for his crimes.

Jared Loughner, 24, a college dropout with a history of psychiatric disorders, is expected to receive seven consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole under a plea deal with prosecutors that spares him the death penalty.

Loughner, asked at the outset of the hearing by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had chosen to waive his right to make a statement, answered in a low voice, "That's true."

He was otherwise silent as he sat next to his lawyer, Judy Clarke.

Giffords, who suffered head wounds that left her with speech difficulties and a limp, was accompanied by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. Kelly was to address the court during the proceedings.

In the audience were Loughner's parents, Amy and Randy, and Giffords' former congressional aide, Ron Barber, who also was wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting.

Loughner pleaded guilty in August in federal court to 19 charges, including murder and attempted murder, in connection with the shootings outside a Tucson area supermarket.

He admitted going to a "Congress On Your Corner" event armed with a loaded Glock 19 pistol and 60 additional rounds of ammunition with plans to kill Giffords, who was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

Loughner shot her through the head at close range. Six people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

Loughner also admitted shooting the others with the intent to kill.

Court-appointed experts said Loughner suffered from schizophrenia, disordered thinking and delusions. He was determined unfit to stand trial in May 2011 after he disrupted court proceedings and was dragged out of the courtroom.

Loughner later was ruled mentally competent to stand trial after being treated for psychosis at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychiatric hospital in Springfield, Missouri. He then agreed to plead guilty.

Few clues to the motives for the attack have emerged. But prison psychologist Christina Pietz has testified that Loughner had expressed remorse for the rampage and especially for the 9-year-old girl's death.

Giffords resigned from Congress in January to focus on her recovery. Her former aide, Ron Barber, who was also wounded in the shooting spree, served out the rest of her term after winning a special election.

Barber ran in Tuesday's election for a newly created congressional district in Arizona and was running neck-and-neck with Republican Martha McSally, with the outcome hanging on some 80,000 provisional and early votes that have yet to be tallied.