Nikolas Cruz was formally sentenced to life in jail with out parole for killing 17 individuals within the mass taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, Florida, in line with The Related Press.
The sentence was handed down Nov. 2, a number of weeks after the jury really helpful he obtain life in jail as an alternative of the dying penalty. Previous to the official sentencing, witnesses and members of the family of the victims got the possibility to deal with Cruz and the courtroom, with many expressing anger that Cruz had been spared execution.
Almost a 12 months after Cruz pleaded responsible to all 17 counts of homicide and tried homicide, the jury within the penalty section of his trial handed down a sentence of life in jail for all counts. Cruz confronted the dying penalty or life in jail for the Valentine’s Day 2018 faculty taking pictures.
In reviewing every rely, the jury agreed that Cruz was responsible of the taking pictures. Nevertheless, a minimum of one member of the jury believed that “mitigating elements” — on this case, Cruz’s psychological sickness — outweighed the proof to justify the dying penalty. (In 2016, the rule for a jury to suggest the dying penalty in Florida was modified from a majority vote to a unanimous vote.)
The decision was introduced after two days of jury deliberation. The choice ended the three-month trial, which included graphic images and movies from the bloodbath, heart-wrenching testimony from each survivors and members of the family of the victims, and a tour of the blood-stained Florida faculty the place the taking pictures occurred.
In July, survivors of the Parkland taking pictures delivered emotional testimony in assist of the state’s dying penalty case; the next month, jurors — in addition to prosecutors, Cruz’s attorneys, and the choose — had been transported from the courthouse to the still-closed Marjory Stoneman Douglas constructing within the faculty complicated the place the taking pictures occurred. Cruz himself waived his proper to return to the crime scene. (The Broward County faculty district beforehand mentioned it will search to demolish the constructing following the dying penalty case.)
Cruz’s attorneys abruptly rested their case within the dying penalty trial on Sept. 14, prompting an uproar within the courtroom and an admonishment from the choose; for his or her protection, Cruz’s attorneys reportedly deliberate to name 80 witnesses over 11 days. They ended up solely calling 25 earlier than resting.
Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer and Cruz’s lead lawyer Melisa McNeill obtained right into a shouting match (the jury had not but entered the courtroom when the squabble occurred), with Scherer reportedly saying McNeill’s determination to shut the case with out warning her or the prosecution was “essentially the most uncalled for, unprofessional solution to attempt a case.”
Throughout the prosecution section, a video of a psychiatrist’s March 2022 jailhouse analysis of Cruz was proven to the jury, revealing that Cruz had deliberate the taking pictures “for months” and that he purposefully selected Valentine’s Day for the tragedy as a result of he had “nobody to like and love him.”
The Parkland taking pictures, the fifth deadliest faculty taking pictures in American historical past, notably launched a large-scale protest motion, largely led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors and the mother and father of victims. Simply over a month after the taking pictures, college students staged a large protest in Washington, D.C., March for Our Lives, with comparable occasions popping up across the U.S.
March for Our Lives, now an advocacy group combating for stricter gun security legal guidelines, mentioned in a press release after Cruz pleaded responsible: “What is evident is that gun violence is a systemic disaster and a uniquely American epidemic. The shooter’s lethal actions are a part of an extended string of gun violence that’s ripping on the very coronary heart of our nation, and kills individuals, and destroys communities day by day. There is no such thing as a place on this nation the place you possibly can go with out concern of being shot. That is an emergency. It’s a violent epidemic that have to be addressed. A single responsible plea doesn’t convey closure so long as it’s nonetheless doable for an additional individual anyplace on this nation to be murdered by a gun at college, in a spot of worship, or of their very own residence. A responsible plea is not going to erase the previous, and it’ll not convey us peace. It has been almost 4 years because the taking pictures. We’re appalled and disgusted that policymakers proceed to waffle and play video games, relatively than do what must be achieved to stop any extra gun deaths. We’re not at peace, we’re as indignant and decided as ever.”
This story was up to date on 11/2/22 at 4:51 p.m. ET after Nikolas Cruz was formally sentenced.