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First post-shooting photos of Gabrielle Giffords released

by Adam Russett on June 13, 2011

The first two photos of wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot in January were released this weekend, providing further evidence of her impressive recovery. Giffords office posted two pictures of the smiling politician to her Facebook page, raising questions about when she will be released from the Houston hospital where she has been undergoing treatment.

The Associated Press reports that the photos were taken by P.K. Weis almost a month ago, a day after Giffords' husband Mark Kelly launched with the space shuttle Endeavor on its final mission.

The pictures, one of which shows Giffords alongside her mother, highlight the substantial strides she's made since she was shot in the head at nearly point-blank range by a gunman in a January 8 assassination attempt. Aides to the congresswoman believe that she could be released from the Houston facility as early as the end of June or the beginning of July. However, despite the fact she is doing well for someone with such a serious injury, those close to her are quick to remind supporters that her mental capacity may not ever be what it once was.

"Her words are back more and more now, but she's still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing. Add it all together, and she's able to express the basics of what she wants or needs," Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, told the Arizona Republic recently. "But, when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that's where she's had the trouble."

Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of wounding the congresswoman and killing six others in the January shooting, was recently judged mentally unfit for trial. Despite the ruling, it does not mean that Loughner will never stand trial. According to the AP, Loughner has been sent to a Springfield, Missouri, center for treatment.

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