A Florida jury has reached a decision for Nikolas Jacob Cruz, the shooter who killed 17 people in the horrific Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, Thursday morning (October 13).
The jury recommended the 24-year-old man get life in prison without parole, avoiding the death penalty. Under Florida law, a death sentence can’t be recommended without a unanimous decision from the jury. Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally sentence him on Tuesday, November 1.
Cruz pleaded guilty last year in one of the deadliest school shootings in human history. He was 19 years old and expelled from the school at the time of the shooting. Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle he legally purchased to slay his victims within minutes and leave 17 more injured. Most of the victims were under 18.
Survivors of the 2018 shooting and families of the victims were present in the courtroom when the decision was announced.
Jury deliberations began Wednesday (October 12) after months of selection and a three-month trial. The prosecution presented gripping testimony from survivors along with cellphone videos capturing terrified cries for help. They recommended the death penalty. The defense is seeking life in prison, arguing that Cruz is mentally ill and affected by his mother’s substance abuse during her pregnancy.
“It is now your duty to make a decision as to the appropriate sentence that should be imposed on Nikolas Jacob Cruz for each of the 17 counts of first-degree murder charged in the indictment,” Scherer told them. “A human life is at stake.”
The parents of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the shooting victims, said they were “disgusted” and “disappointed” with the verdict during a press briefing.
“We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today. This should’ve been the death penalty 100%,” Lori Alhadeff said. “I sent my daughter to school and she was shot eight times… I just don’t understand this.”
“I’m disgusted with our legal system. I’m disgusted with those jurors,” Dr. Ilan Marc Alhadeff said.
The shooter said he was “very sorry” for his actions in his guilty plea and asked for another chance to help others.