Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for the first time looked in the eyes of the man who shot her, moments before Jared Loughner was to be sentenced to life in prison for a shooting rampage last year that left six people dead and 13 injured.
Giffords was sitting in the second row of the courtroom with her husband, ex-astronaut Mark Kelly and she stretched to get a better view of Loughner when he entered the courtroom.
Several of Loughner's victims gave statements in court this morning about how Loughner's shooting spree impacted their lives."You pointed a weapon at me and shot me," Susie Hidelman, who was shot three times while trying to save her 9-year-old neighbor, told Loughner in court this morning. "I will walk out of this courtroom and into my life and I will not think of you again," she said.
Loughner, 24, pleaded guilty in August to 19 federal charges under a deal that would give him life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Loughner chose not to speak at today's hearing. When asked by Judge Larry Burn if he understood he has a right to make a statement, Loughner responded "Yes, sir" in a long monotone.
Following the shooting, Loughner was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is under orders to forcibly receive anti-psychotic medication.
Many of the victims welcomed his decision to accept a federal plea bargain and avoid a lengthy trial. It remains unknown whether state prosecutors will try him anyway and seek the death penalty.
Loughner is currently being held at a prison medical facility in Missouri.