Today, in a federal courtroom in Tucson, Arizona, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims and family were in attendance as Jared Loughner, 24, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of six people and wounding of 13.
Loughner, who opened fire in a supermarket parking lot during a Congress on Your Corner gathering in January 2011, was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences and 140 years according to USA Today.
“This sentence assures that he will never be released from prison,” stated U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo in a post-sentencing statement.
Joining Giffords in the courtroom was her husband Mark Kelly, who had one last statement for Loughner, “You tried to create a world as dark and evil as your own. Remember this: You failed.”
USA Today also states that in compliance with terms of a plea agreement reached in August by prosecutors and defense attorneys, Loughner will spend the rest of his life in prison – most likely in a federal prison psychiatric ward.
“It is our hope that the six members of our community who lost their lives on January 8, 2011 will never be forgotten: Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, John M. Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Gabriel M. Zimmerman. There is a permanent void in the lives of all they left behind,” Leonardo said in the statement. “For the family members of those who were killed, and for those that survived this terrible event, it is our hope that the final resolution of this case will be a positive step towards their healing process physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It was with them in mind that we offered this plea agreement to the defendant. We also believe that this sentence is appropriate in light of Jared Loughner’s severe mental illness.”
As reported by USA Today, Pam Simon, one of the victims and a former Giffords aide, told the court, "I want this to be over. I came here seeking peace." She told Loughner she knew he did not seek his mental illness, and that she had learned from the tragedy.
"I have been humbled and inspired by the strength and determination of other survivors," Simon said.
“Tucson has moved forward from this tragedy with hope, optimism, and a renewed sense of shared humanity,” Leonardo said.
That strength and optimism Simon and Leonardo address, resonates throughout the community and the victims, including Giffords who stepped down from her position as U.S. Rep. for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District on January 22, to focus on recovery.