Jared Loughner is expected in court today, where he will most likely plead guilty to the shootings in January of last year, which included the near-fatal shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Today, Gabrielle and her husband Mark have issued statements saying that they fully support the plea deal, which is a remarkable act of forgiveness.
"We don't speak for all of the victims or their families, but Gabby and I are satisfied with this plea arrangement," the public statement read. "The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011 are incalculable. Avoiding a trial will allow us- and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community- to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives."
It has been 17 months of intense therapy and healing for Giffords, who was shot in the head by Loughner as she attended a public gathering. Loughner killed six people that day including a small child, and wounded 13 others. Officials diagnosed him with schizophrenia after a medical evaluation and have kept him on medication since he was taken into custody.
Today Loughner will face the judge and is expected to formally confess to the shootings before pleading guilty and receiving his sentence. If he chooses to take the deal, he will not face the death penalty, which prosecutors had originally sought in connection with the killings. Instead, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
The statement from the Giffords family shows that they have been in connection with prosecutors and have decided what is best for them. It's a show of humility and forgiveness at a time when Loughner needs it most. No one knows what led Loughner to go to the event on Jan. 8 and open fire, but what's clear is that those events will always be remembered sadly.
For Giffords, the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona, faith is vitally important.
"My Jewish heritage has really instilled in me the importance of education and caring for the community," she told The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix in 2006. The Torah teaches justice and forgiveness, and Giffords is putting those words to action with her statement today.