by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News October 13, 2022
A jury in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Nikolas Cruz, who murdered 17 people in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The jury was required to be unanimous for a death penalty recommendation, and at least one juror withheld support for the death penalty in the 17 verdicts for the murder victims.
Cruz pleaded guilty last year to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer read the verdict dealing with each victim, each of which cited “mitigating circumstances” preventing a death penalty decision.
“The jury let us down. They didn’t go by the evidence. There were no mitigating factors,” said Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, father of 14-year-old Alyssa who was fatally shot in the 2018 massacre. “There is no reason. And if there is a reason, why are we allowing people to randomly kill people.”
Judge Scherer will formally issue the life sentences on Nov. 1. Under Florida law, she cannot depart from the jury’s recommendation of life without parole.
Relatives, along with the students and teachers Cruz wounded, will be given the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing.
Following the jury’s recommendation, the Stand With Parkland group – which includes parents and spouses of Parkland shooting victims – issued the following statement from President Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed by Cruz:
“Today’s ruling was yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones on that tragic Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 17 beautiful lives were cut short, by murder, and the monster that killed them gets to live to see another day. While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law — it will not stop our mission to effect positive change at a federal, state and local level to prevent school shooting tragedies from shattering other American families.”