Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2018 killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, after a jury said Thursday it would unanimously Couldn’t agree that he should be executed – a decision that left some parents. Crying as he left the courtroom.
The jury’s recommendation came after seven hours of deliberations over two days, the culmination of a three-month trial that included graphic videos, photos and testimony of the massacre and its aftermath, heartbreaking testimony from victims’ families and A blood transfusion was included. – Scattered building.
Under Florida law, the death penalty requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Shearer will formally hand down the life sentences on Nov. 1. Relatives of Cruz’s injured students and teachers will be given the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing.
Cruz, his hair unkempt, sat hunched over and stared at the table as the jury’s recommendations were read. Uproar erupted from part of the family — which included about three dozen parents, spouses and other relatives of the victims — as the life sentence was announced. Many shook their heads, looked angry or covered their eyes as the judge spent 50 minutes reading the jury’s verdict for each victim.
Some parents cried as they left the court.
Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty to killing 14 students and three staff members and injuring 17 others a year ago on February 14, 2018. Cruz said he chose Valentine’s Day to make it impossible for Stoneman Douglas students to celebrate the holiday again.
The massacre is the deadliest mass shooting ever to go to trial in the United States, along with nine others in the United States who killed at least 17 people during or immediately after the attacks by suicide or police shootings. Shot dead. The suspect in the 2019 El Paso, Texas, massacre of 23 at a Walmart is awaiting trial.
Lead prosecutor Mike Seitz kept his case simple for the seven-man, five-woman jury. He focused on Cruz’s eight-month plan, chased through the halls of a three-story classroom building in seven minutes, fired 140 rounds with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, and escaped. .
He played security videos of the shooting and showed gruesome photos of the crime scene and autopsy.
Teachers and students testified to seeing others die. He leads the jury into the fenced-in building, which is bloodied and riddled with bullets. v Gave tearful and angry statements.
Cruz’s lead attorney, Melissa McNeill, and her team never questioned the horror he caused, but focused on their belief that his birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnancy caused him to die. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. His specialists said his strange, disturbing and sometimes violent behavior starting at age 2 was misdiagnosed as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, meaning he was never properly treated. . He said it overwhelmed his widowed adoptive mother.
The defense shortened its case, calling only 25 of the 80 witnesses it said would testify. They didn’t raise Cruz through his high school years and didn’t call his younger half-brother, Zachary, whom they accused of being a bully.
In rebuttal, Seitz and his team claimed that Cruise did not suffer from fetal alcohol damage but had an antisocial personality disorder – in layman’s terms, a sociopath. His witnesses said Cruz faked brain damage during testing and that he was able to control his actions, but chose not to. As an example, they pointed to her job as a cashier at a discount store where she never had any disciplinary problems.
Prosecutors also played several video recordings of Cruz discussing the crime with his mental health experts where he talked about his planning and motivation.
The defense alleged in cross-examination that Cruz was sexually molested and abused at age 9 by a 12-year-old neighbor.