Jared Lee Loughner, who shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head, killed six and wounded 12 others in a 2011 rampage in Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced to life in prison without parole after listening to some of his victims berate him for damaging their lives.
Loughner, now 24, received the sentence in a Tucson federal court after a series of emotional confrontations. After one woman spoke about the pain of losing her husband to Loughner's bullet, Giffords turned to her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and kissed him on the head, according to reports from journalists inside the courtroom.
When it was their turn to confront the shooter, Kelly and Giffords stood and looked directly at Loughner. It was the first time Giffords has been face to face with Loughner. The defendant returned the couple's gaze as Kelly explained how the bullet had changed his wife's life, but couldn't damage her spirit.
"Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day," Kelly said of his wife, whose efforts to recover have inspired many people across the nation. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at.
"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.
"You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own," said the former astronaut as he looked at Loughner. "But know this, and remember it always: You failed.
"You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today, after this moment, here and now, Gabby and I are done thinking about you."
Giffords, who did not speak, kissed Kelly when he finished. Then he took her hand and they walked away, the former lawmaker limping.
Loughner, who wore a dark brown shirt with a tie, did not speak at his sentencing.
The scene sparked tears among many in the courtroom, according to journalists who tweeted from the scene. But it was just one of many emotional moments as the federal phase of the case came to a formal, and negotiated, end.
Giffords was making a routine political appearance at a supermarket parking lot in her Tucson district on the morning of Jan. 8, 2011, when Loughner opened fire.