The person who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, should spend the rest of his or her life in prison without the chance of parole, says a jury.
Nikolas Cruz, who is 24 years old, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of planned murder and 17 counts of attempted murder last year. Now, the jury had to decide if Cruz would spend the rest of his life in jail or be put to death. For the death penalty to be given, all 12 jurors must agree.
The jury agreed that Cruz’s murders were worse than they could have been because of certain things. But at least one juror thought that for each murder, the aggravating factors didn’t outweigh the mitigating factors, so the death penalty wasn’t fair and a life sentence was recommended.
During the hour-long reading of the verdict sheets for the 17 counts of murder, it might have been hard for people to figure out right away what the jury had decided.
When it became clear that the jury wanted Cruz to get life in prison instead of the death penalty, many people in the courtroom, including the victims’ families, shook their heads in disbelief and shed tears.
Based on what the jury said, the prosecutors asked that Cruz’s victims be given the chance to talk about the crime and what they think the correct sentence should be. The judge said yes, so it will happen in a few weeks.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who is in charge of the case, can’t change what the jury decided. In 2016, Florida’s courts got rid of the death penalty.
The Victims’ Families Are Upset
When they talked to the press after the verdict, the victims’ families were angry and upset.
“I hate the way our legal system works. I hate those people on the jury, “Ilan Alhadeff, the father of Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed, said. “That 17 people can die and 17 more can be shot and hurt, but the death penalty is not given.
What’s the point of putting people to death? Why do you want to do it? You’ve made a new rule today. You show that the next time someone kills a lot of people, nothing will happen to you. You’ll get life in jail. Sorry, but that’s not okay. We need to stand up as a country and say, “That’s not OK!”
“I hope that animal suffers in jail every day of his life. And he should not live long, “Alhadeff added.
On Valentine’s Day in 2018, Cruz killed 14 people. He was 19 years old at the time and had just been kicked out of school. He went into a school through a side door that wasn’t locked and killed 14 students and three staff members with an AR-15-style rifle. He also hurt 17 other people.
Wednesday was the first day of jury deliberations. The jury asked to see the murder weapon late that day. The Associated Press reports that the jury said it had decided on a sentence Thursday morning, about 15 minutes after the jurors were able to look at the weapon.
The Government Wanted The Death Penalty.
The prosecutors wanted the death sentence. During Tuesday’s closing arguments, the lead prosecutor, Mike Satz, told the jury that during Cruz’s siege of the school, he had hunted down his victims and killed some of those he had already hurt.
Satz said, “This plan had a clear goal, was well thought out, had a clear purpose, and was a planned massacre.” The Parkland shooter’s fate will be decided by a jury.
“During the six-month trial, students and teachers who lived through the attack told the jury about what happened. They listened to graphic accounts from medical examiners and watched surveillance videos that showed Cruz shooting into classrooms and hallways and shooting some people more than once “Allen reported.
In laying out Cruz’s defense, his lawyers showed testimony from a counselor and a doctor who said the defendant has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This disorder, they said, affects the way he thinks and acts. Witnesses said that his birth mother, Brenda Woodard, used drugs and drank alcohol while she was carrying him.
In her closing arguments, Melissa McNeil, who is Cruz’s lawyer, said, “You now know that Nikolas is a brain-damaged, broken, mentally ill person through no fault of his own.” “He was poisoned while he was still in Brenda’s womb.” Nikolas Cruz admits to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and pleads guilty.
The Associated Press says that Cruz’s shooting spree is the deadliest mass shooting that has ever been tried in the U.S. When 17 or more people died in other attacks, the shooter was either killed by police or killed himself. The person who is thought to have killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 is still waiting to be tried.
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