Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in an appearance in May.… (Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images )
Almost two years after Jared Lee Loughner shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head, she faced him at his sentencing Thursday in a Tuscon federal courtroom.
She didn't speak. But her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, spoke for her.
"Her life has been forever changed," Kelly said to Loughner, according to the Associated Press. "Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered. Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at.”
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After court-orderd psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia, Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the January 2011 shooting rampage that killed six and injured 13. The plea deal spared victims a painful trial.
Loughner reportedly did not look at Giffords as her husband spoke.
Kelly told him to “pay attention” as he and Giffords addressed him “for the first and last time.”
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“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, according to media reports.
“Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered on that day,” Kelly said.
He also criticized Gov. Jan Brewer and other political leaders for failing to tackle gun control.
“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced,” Kelly said, according to a CNN transcript. “We have representatives who look at gun violence not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.”
Other survivors also gave victim impact statements, including Susan Hileman. “You pointed a weapon and shot me three times,” she told Loughner, the AP reported. “And now I walked out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life and I won't think of you again.”
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