Giffords' husband blasts officials over gun control at Loughner hearing

Jared Lee Loughner's guilty plea agreement specifies life in prison without parole.

 

TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, testified during a hearing of his wife's shooter Thursday, telling the accused he and his wife are "done thinking about you" and lambasting elected officials for their positions on gun control.

"We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced," Kelly said before the court. "We have representatives who look at gun violence,
 not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.

"In this state we have elected officials so feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of Governor Jan Brewer, 'I don't think it has anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun,.'" Kelly continued. "She went on and said, 'Even if the shooter's weapon had held fewer bullets, he'd have another gun, maybe. He could have three guns in his pocket' – she said this just one week after a high capacity magazine allowed you to kill..." Kelly said.

He was directly addressing Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Kelly's wife, Giffords, in a January 2011 shooting rampage outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz.

"Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head, but you have not put a dent in her spirit, and her ability to do good.

"Gabby and I are done thinking about you," Kelly said.

Giffords and her husband were among least 10 other shooting victims were in the courtroom.

Susan Hileman was shot three times when Loughner went on his rampage. Hileman kept glancing back at Loughner as she spoke to the court, and he looked at her. Loughner's parents had their heads down as Hileman said Loughner's parents, college and community had failed Loughner.

Loughner's mother Amy could be seen wiping her eyes. Loughner declined to speak at the hearing.

Mavy Stoddard, the wife of Dorwan Stoddard, who died in the shooting, testified: "When you shot my precious husband Dorwans Stoddard, you ruined my life," CNN reported.

Stoddard attended the Tuscon event with her husband.

"Somehow, when you shot him, I got out from under him. ... I was screaming, 'Oh God, oh God, help me,'" she said according to the report.

"I said to him, 'Breathe deeply,' and he did. Therefore, I believe that he heard me say, 'I love you.'"

He died in her arms about 10 minutes later, she said. "Then I passed out because you had shot me three times. ... You took away my life my love my reason for living," she said.


 "We have all come here today seeking something ... resolution, closure. ... I came to the courtroom today seeking peace. Not just for today but for the days ahead," shooting victim Pamela Simon testified, according to the CNN report. "I decided adding anger to the burden will do no good. I find peace and closure in meaningful positive action and in forgiveness."

The 24-year-old Loughner pleaded guilty three months ago to 19 federal charges under an agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. The deal calls for the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.

Both sides reached the deal after a judge declared that Loughner was able to understand the charges against him. After the shooting, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent forcible psychotropic drug treatments.

Some victims, including Giffords, welcomed the deal as a way to move on. It spared victims and their families from having to go through a potentially lengthy and traumatic trial and locks up the defendant for life.

Judy Clarke, Loughner's lead attorney, didn't return messages seeking comment.

Christina Pietz, the court-appointed psychologist who treated Loughner, had warned that although Loughner was competent to plead guilty, he remained severely mentally ill and his condition could deteriorate under the stress of a trial.

When Loughner first arrived at a Missouri prison facility for treatment, he was convinced Giffords was dead, even though he was shown a video of the shooting. He eventually realized she was alive after he was forcibly medicated.

It's unknown whether Pima County prosecutors, who have discretion on whether to seek the death penalty against Loughner, will file state charges against him. Stephanie Coronado, a spokeswoman for Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, said Wednesday that no decision had been made.

It's unclear where Loughner will be sent to serve his federal sentence. He could return to a prison medical facility like the one in Springfield, Mo., where he's been treated for more than a year. Or he could end up in a prison such as the federal lockup in Florence, Colo., that houses some of the country's most notorious criminals, including Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.