A US court has sentenced an Arizona man, 24, to seven consecutive life-long jail terms for a fatal shooting spree at a supermarket last year that left former Democrat congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords maimed.
The convicted gunman Jared Loughner was spared the death penalty under a guilty plea deal reached in August last year after a judge ruled that he was schizophrenic when he took aim at Giffords – then a rising star in the Democratic Party - on January 8, 2011.
Six people were killed, including a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and one of Giffords staff members. Alongside Giffords, 12 others were wounded.
When he pleaded guilty last year, Loughner admitted going to the congresswoman's meeting with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, armed with a loaded pistol and 60 additional rounds of ammunition.
The trial of the 24-year-old had begun on Tuesday, with survivors and relatives of victims giving emotional testimony.
At sentencing on Thursday, US District Court judge Larry Burns said the seventh life-long term was for the attempted assassination of Giffords. He also imposed six consecutive life-long sentences for the six murders.
Multiple life sentence without parole
The jail sentences total 140 years without parole. Since May 2011, Loughner has been confined to a psychiatric ward at a federal prison hospital in Missouri.
Prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst said Loughner was initially convinced that he had killed Giffords after shooting her at close range in the head. He only later acknowledged that she was alive after months of treatment "and he had failed."
Giffords' miraculous survival left her in a long struggle to recover from brain damage.
She stepped down from Congress to focus on her recovery and in early September delivered a pledge for President Barack Obama's re-election during the Democratic Party's convention to nominate its presidential candidate.
Her former aide and congressional successor, Ron Barber, who was shot in the leg during Loughner's rampage, ran in Tuesday's election for a newly-created congressional district in Arizona. That outcome remained inconclusive on Thursday, with tallying continuing of provisional and early votes.
ipj/kms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)