Gabby Giffords will finally come face-to-face with the man responsible for turning her life upside-down over one year ago. Jared Loughner is charged with killing six people and the attempted murder of former Representative Gabby Giffords and will be sentenced today.
Loughner pleaded guilty after a long debate as to whether he was competent to stand trial. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been on medication since the shooting. Loughner is expected to be sentenced to life behind bars as part of a plea arrangement that kept him from facing the death penalty.
Today is the first time Giffords will be in the same room as Loughner; she was in a rehabilitation center when Loughner first appeared in court. Her husband, Mark Kelly, kept an eye on all the proceedings and also kept his wife informed of the situation.
"We don't speak for all of the victims or their families, but Gabby and I are satisfied with this plea arrangement," a public statement by Giffords and Kelly said. "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 more forward with our lives."
Kelly is expected to make a statement on behalf of the family during today's hearing. This marks a new step in recovery for Giffords, who fought her way back from a close-range shot to the head. She surprised everyone by initially surviving the attack and then going on to thrive.
Giffords was able to attend the final send-off of her husband's space shuttle, and together the couple watched the Endeavor return home to California. NASA even arranged a special fly-by so that Giffords would be able to enjoy the view. It's a story of inspiration for her family, friends, and the public.