(FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA) — The jurors in the Parkland shooter sentencing trial will decide his fate today as they begin their deliberations, concluding a three-month trial.
Tuesday during closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that the “appropriate sentence for Nikolas Cruz was the death penalty.”
He’s charged with 17 counts of first degree murder for the Valentine’s Day mass shooting a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.
The defense told the jury that the shooter did plead guilty to all 17 counts of first degree murder and did plan the killings, but should have his life spared because he was poisoned in the womb by his mother irretrievably breaking his brain.
Defense attorney Melisa McNeill asked the jury, “Do we kill brain-damaged, mentally ill, broken people?” adding that “He deserves to be punished, but sentencing Nikolas to death will change absolutely nothing. It will not bring back those 17 innocent victims that he viciously murdered.”
“The individual, moral decision that you will be making about whether Nikolas should live or die is not a decision that should be made in an emotional state,” she told the jurors. “Please don’t ever feel pressured to reach a verdict — take your time…You must carefully consider and weigh the evidence, realizing…that you literally have another human being’s life at stake.”
The seven men and five women will be sequestered in what the judge calls a top secret location with no phones, TV or any other electronics.
They’ll be allowed to read certain books, no legal thrillers, and can have two alcoholic drinks a day at their own expense.
The panel must be unanimous in its decision for the death penalty to apply. Even then, the judge can overturn it.
Fred Guttenberg, father of 14-year-old victim Jaime Guttenberg, tweeted Tuesday morning that he hopes the trial “will conclude this week.”
“This trial has been harder on us than you could imagine, and we are ready to have this in our rear view,” he said.