Coral Springs, Florida – On Thursday, a jury decided to sentence the confessed murderer of 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and employees to life in prison.
The jury of seven men and five women voted that Nikolas Cruz, 24, should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than death.
The judgment was made after less than a day of discussions in a drawn-out sentencing trial that began in July and was solely concerned with Cruz’s fate—death or life in prison.
Cruz admitted culpability last year to shooting 17 people on February 14, 2018, at the MSD freshman building, killing 17, and wounding 17.
In the crowded courtroom, several parents and relatives of the victims stared in horror, shook their heads, and some wiped their eyes as Judge Elizabeth Scherer read the jury’s verdicts.
Cruz offered to plead guilty following the shooting in return for a life sentence, but Michael Satz, the main prosecutor, declared he would seek the death penalty at the moment.
Jurors have to unanimously recommend the capital penalty for the murder of at least one victim in order for the court to sentence Cruz to death.
Cruz’s life should be spared, at least according to one juror who seems to have been persuaded.
His defenders claimed that he had brain impairment from conception. The defense claimed that Cruz’s biological mother was a drug addict and heavy drinker who worked as a prostitute.
The 14-year-old gunshot victim Alyssa Alhadeff’s parents expressed their displeasure with the jury’s verdict during the court proceeding.
“I just don’t understand this,” said Lori Alhadeff, her mother and vice chair of the Broward County School Board.
Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, her father, expressed his “disgust” at the jury.
“What do we have the death penalty for? What is the purpose of it?” he said. “We set a precedent today for the next guy’s killing that nothing happens to you and you get life in jail. I’m sorry that is not ok. As a country, we need to stand up and say that is not ok.”
He added this about Cruz: “I pray that animal suffers every day of his life. And he should have a short life.”
Killed in the shooting were: Alhadeff; Scott Beigel, 35; Martin Duque, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Aaron Feis, 37; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Christopher Hixon, 49; Luke Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 15.