(FORT LAUDERDALE, FL)– Families and loved ones of the 17 people killed by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School watched as he avoided Florida’s death penalty in a Broward courtroom on Thursday.
“We are beyond disappointed by the outcome today,” said Lori Alhadeff, the mother of 14 year old Alyssa Alhadeff who was killed by Cruz on February 14th, 2018.
As each of the 17 verdicts were read, again and again it was revealed that at least one of the jurors felt that ‘mitigating circumstances’ outweighed the ‘aggravating circumstances’ and Cruz should not be put to death for his crimes.
Upon hearing the sentencing recommendation for their lost loved one, some of the family members left the courtroom while the verdicts were still being read.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of victim Jaime Guttenberg told reporters “in prison, I hope and pray he [Cruz] receives the kind of mercy from prisoners that he showed to my daughter and sixteen others.”
Speaking in Cape Coral this afternoon Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed disappointment with the verdict and said he believed Cruz deserved the death penalty for his crimes.
“I don’t think anything else is appropriate except a capital sentence in this case,” the governor said.
“This day is not a day of celebration,” attorney Gordon Weekes, the Broward Public Defender whose office represented Nikolas Cruz, said at a press conference. “I hope that we as a community can respect the verdict as it was rendered, respect the process as it was had, and understand that those jurors have spoken.”
“This jury failed our families today,” Fred Guttenberg said in the courthouse lobby.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd who served on the state’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission and helped draft new school security laws didn’t hold back in his dour assessment of the outcome.
“If there’s ever been anyone on the face of the earth that deserve the death penalty it was that evil, violent, murdering piece of trash that massacred those children,” Judd said during a press availability.
He went on: “If you can’t get the death penalty for that in Broward County that’s not a safe county to live in.”
Cruz will be formally sentenced to life in prison on November 1st.