Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be in court today when the man who shot her in the head last year is sentenced to a life in behind bars. Jared Lee Loughner will appear in a Tuscon court at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder, and attempted assassination of a member of Congress, among other charges. In exchange for the guilty plea, Loughner will avoid the death penalty, but receive seven consecutive life sentences, followed by 140 years in prison.
Today's court hearing will be the first time that victims of the shooting will be given the chance to confront Loughner in person. Giffords's husband, former Space Shuttle commander Mark Kelly, is expected to address the court on her behalf. Other victims will speak in court as well, and Lougher's family and friends are also invited to speak. Giffords, Kelly, and some of the other victims welcomed the plea deal as it will end the legal drama and allow them to put the case behind them.
In January 2011, Loughner opened fire at a Giffords political event, killing six people and wounding 13. One of the victims was a nine-year-old girl, Christina Taylor-Green. Giffords spent several months in the hospital, undergoing rehabilitation, and returned to the House of Representatives before resigning in January of 2012. Loughner continues to be treated for mental illness and may serve some or all of his sentence in a prison medical facility, like the one where has been more more than a year.