(FORT LAUDERDALE, FL) — After 7 and a half hours of deliberation, jurors recommended that confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz should be sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in 2018.
The jury was unanimous in its finding that the state had proven its case and that on all 17 counts Cruz was eligible for the death penalty.
However, one or more jurors found on all 17 counts that the aggravating factors did not outweigh the mitigating factors…basically it was his mother’s fault.
The defense told the jury that Cruz was poisoned by alcohol and crack cocaine while he was in the womb and his brain was irretrievably broken. One or more jurors agreed.
Cruz listened to the verdict recommendation as it was read by Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer with his head down.
When asked if there was a objection to the sentencing, the prosecution objected and said that more victim impact statements were warranted from both family members of the dead and from the survivors.
Judge Scherer continued the sentencing hearing to November 1st at 9:00 a.m. It will be lengthy, according to the prosecution because witnesses must address all the counts including murder and attempted murder.
The defense had asked the state to accept a guilty verdict on all counts in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. The state was adamant that they would seek death and rejected the offer.
Cruz ended up pleading guilty to 17 counts of murder before the three month sentencing trial. For now, there still is no verdict, the the recommendation is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Judge Scherer has the final say in the matter. This is the first time she has presided over a death penalty trial.
During her reading of the jury sentencing recommendation, family members of the victims watched somberly from the gallery, some weeping as they comforted one another.
Jurors found on all counts that ‘mitigating factors’ outweighed the ‘aggravating factors’ in the case that would have warranted a death sentence.
As the sentencing phase continues, there is still no closure for the families of the dead after 4 and-a half-years since the rampage that took the lives of 17 people on February 14th, 2018.
Their names are:
Alyssa Alhadeff, age 14
Scott Beigel, age 35
Martin Duque, age 14
Nicholas Dworet, age 17
Aaron Feis, age 37
Jaime Guttenberg, age 14
Chris Hixon, age 49
Luke Hoyer, age 15
Cara Loughran, age 14
Gina Montalto, age 14
Joaquin Oliver, age 17
Alaina Petty, age 14
Meadow Pollack, age 18
Helena Ramsay, age 17
Alex Schachter, age 14
Carmen Schentrup, age 16
Peter Wang, age 15
Cruz would serve his sentence in a state prison with the location determined by the Department of Corrections.
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