In the sentencing trial of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman, who killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day 2018, a Florida jury has rendered a judgment. In a moment, each charge’s verdict will be read.
The gunman was in the punishment phase of his trial after last year’s guilty plea to seventeen charges of murder. With the youngest victim being only 14 years old, there were 14 pupils and three faculty members slain.
If the jury decides to execute someone, it must be unanimous. If not, the gunman will be given a life sentence for what the prosecution referred to as a “systematic massacre” during closing arguments.
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.
UPDATE From New York Post:
In one of the worst and most heinous mass killings in American history, a jury has reached a decision in the trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, who killed 14 students and three instructors. Following the reading of the jury verdicts in each of the 17 slayings, Judge Elizabeth Scherer will decide whether to sentence Cruz to death or life in prison.
As a result, the jury has recommended that he be given a life sentence for 12 out of the 17 victims.
Emotions ran high in the courtroom as the judgments were read out, and many of Cruz’s victims’ heartbroken parents sobbed and buried their heads in their hands. Cruz’s fate was decided by a jury of seven women and five men in only one day after an agonizing three-month trial. Cruz, a former student at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, entered the three-story structure on Valentine’s Day of 2018 and started shooting randomly.
Cruz’s defense counsel had suggested that the carnage may have been lessened by the killer’s troubled and terrible background. Cruz, now 24 years old, was adopted as a baby by a Florida couple. He was born to a crack and alcohol-dependent prostitute. Although Lynda and Roger Cruz, the child’s adoptive parents, gave him a secure home, his attorneys said the harm had already been done.
They said that Cruz’s birth mother’s frequent drinking, while he was still in the womb, was what first caused his brain to deteriorate. His defense team called a number of experts who testified that he most likely had fetal alcohol syndrome. They said that Cruz’s developing mental illness was also influenced by other distressing aspects of his early life, such as witnessing his adoptive father pass away from a heart attack when he was only five years old. Just four months before the massacre, Lynda Cruz also passed away. Read more