The Parkland murderer is recommended for a life sentence without parole by the jury
Some of the families of the victims of the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were disappointed and angry by the jury’s recommendation that the shooter receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.
After a lengthy trial, a jury on Thursday recommended a term of life in prison without parole for Nikolas Cruz, but Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will announce the final sentence on November 1. The law in Florida, however, requires that she follow the jury’s recommendation of life without parole.
As the verdict forms for each of the 17 people he killed were read in court Thursday morning, members of the gunman’s victims’ families bowed or shook their heads. The jury decided that the mitigating circumstances offered by Cruz’s defense attorneys were more compelling than the aggravating reasons presented by state prosecutors, and that Cruz should be given a life sentence rather than the death penalty.
As the judgments were read, not one juror turned toward the victims’ families; instead, they all stared down or ahead. Cruz, with his lawyers on either side of him, sat expressionless, his eyes cast downward at the table in front of him. He was dressed in a blue and gray sweater over a collared shirt and was wearing spectacles.
The prosecution had argued that Cruz’s choice to carry out the shooting was not only unusually horrific or cruel but also intentional and calculated, and not related to any neurological or intellectual deficiencies as the defense had claimed.