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'You're hurting no one but yourself': January 8 survivor forgives gunman
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The sentencing of mass gunman Jared Loughner
led victims of the rampage to come face to face with the man who’s caused them incalculable pain and suffering. What would you do? What would you say? One survivors chose to forgive. She shared her personal journey -- from 22 months ago to Thursday -- with KGUN9 News.
“I was starting to fall down and he fell on top of me," she said. "He pushed me on down and fell on top of me to save me."
But 76-year-old Dorwan -- shot in the head -- could not save himself. She was shot at least three times, and he saved her from a spray of more bullets.
“I held him as he died, and I’m thankful to God for letting me,” Mavy said.
With her best friend on her mind and in her heart, Stoddard faced the gunman Thursday.
"It's exoneration for my husband,” she told reporters entering the federal courthouse in Tucson.
In the courtroom, she told Jared Loughner: "You took away my life, my love and my reason for living," and, “You forgot to shoot yourself."
“That's the very first time that I really stared in his face,” Stoddard told KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen over the phone later that day.
“What did you see?” Keen asked her, to which she replied, “I think a lot of it was bafflement -- just, 'What have I done? What have I created?'”
“(Today) meant what most people call 'closure,'” Stoddard later said. “I don't like the word because I don't believe there will ever be a closure.”
But Stoddard is satisfied her husband's killer will spend his life in prison.
Earlier this year, she said this about 24-year-old Loughner: “I don't hate him. I mainly feel sorry for him. I'm working toward being able to say I fully forgive him. I'm not there yet.”
Today, she is.
“I told him that I did forgive him and it had taken me a year,” Stoddard told KGUN9. “One of the hardest things I’d ever done.”
She said the moment came during a candlelight vigil at the University of Arizona marking one year after the shooting.
“It just kind of came over me that you're hurting no one but yourself,” Stoddard said. “That's all hatred and bitterness ever does. It hurts the people that are feeling it -- not the person it's aimed at.”