'You put a bullet in her, but you didn't dent her spirit'

Gabrielle Giffords confronts Jared Lee Loughner in court

Los Angeles

Almost two years after he opened fire on a crowd outside a Tuscon supermarket, killing six people and injuring another 14, Jared Lee Loughner has once more come face to face with his most famous victim, the former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The 24-year-old gunman, a college dropout with a history of psychiatric disorders, appeared in court near to the scene of his crime yesterday. Under a plea bargain which saved him from execution, he was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years in prison, without chance of parole.

A hushed courtroom watched as a string of his victims took the stand to tell Loughner the impact of his shooting spree on their lives. They were led by Mark Kelly, astronaut and husband of Ms Giffords, who told how the attack had left her partially paralysed, with speech difficulties, and diminished sight.

"Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered," he said. "Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day. Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at. By making death and producing tragedy you sought to diminish the beauty of life. Although you were mentally ill, you were responsible. You now have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did, but from this moment, Gabby and I are done thinking about you."

Ms Giffords, a Democrat, gave up her house seat in January. Her aide, Ron Barber, served the remainder of her term, after winning a special election. Barber is currently waiting on an official recount to discover whether he managed to narrowly hold onto the seat at Tuesday's election.

Mr Kelly injected a sharp political note into yesterday morning's proceedings when he criticised Arizona's right-wing Governor, Jan Brewer, for denying that the State's gun laws, which are among the most relaxed in the developed world, were responsible for the scale of the killings.

Despite his documented history of psychiatric problems, Loughner was able to legally purchase not only a Glock pistol, but also an extended magazine for it, from a sporting goods store at a retail park near his home.

The 30-round magazine was legalised when George W Bush allowed an assault weapon ban to lapse in the mid-2000s. It dramatically increased the number of people Loughner was subsequently able to shoot.

"Jan Brewer said [the deaths] had nothing to do with the size of the magazine," said Mr Kelly. "She said this just one week after you used a high-capacity magazine." He further noted that Ms Brewer had seen fit, a few weeks after the 2011 attack, to devote her time to introducing an official "state gun" to Arizona.

Other victims who spoke yesterday included Mavanell Stoddard, who was shot three times and saved from death by her husband, who shielded her from further bullets before bleeding to death on the pavement. "You took away my life, my love and my reason for living," she told Loughner.

Susan Hileman, who was also wounded, looked directly at Loughner as she addressed him. "You pointed a weapon and shot me three times," she said. "And now I will walk out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life and I won't think of you again."

Loughner, whose victims had included a nine-year-old girl, showed little remorse. At an earlier hearing, he had pleaded guilty to going to a "Congress on Your Corner" event organised by Ms Giffords with the intent to kill. His exact motives remain unclear, though court psychiatrists have diagnosed him with schizophrenia.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

HLTA - Higher Level Teaching Assistant

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teacher requi...

Deputy Head of Science

£36000 - £60000 per annum: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client are a we...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London