Parkland Shooter Should Not Get the Death Penalty, Jury Recommends

The man who murdered 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School should get a life sentence, a jury said Thursday.
Shana Rosenthal, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, visits a makeshift memorial setup in front of the school on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.
Shana Rosenthal, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, visits a makeshift memorial setup in front of the school on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A jury has recommended the man who murdered 17 people—most of them teenagers—in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should get a life sentence for his crimes.

Under Florida law on capitol crimes, the jury must unanimously vote for the death penalty due to aggravating factors. If a single juror disagrees, a life sentence is given.

A judge read through the verdicts for each individual murder one by one. The jury recommended he serve a life sentence for each of the 17 victims.

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The trial to determine if Nikolas Cruz, who shot up the Parkland, Florida, school, would get the death penalty drew to a close today. The shooter had already pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. The jury made their recommendation Thursday, but the final decision rests with Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who will hand down the sentencing on Nov. 1.

The gunman looked emotional and hung his head, rubbing his hands through his hair occasionally as the judge read out the verdict Thursday.

The emotional trial broke down the killings in the high school in graphic detail, including one where Cruz all but executed a student who had previously been shot in the legs. The student had been holding a door to help his peers escape the bloodshed.

The jury also heard multiple graphic stories from survivors of the shooting who were shot multiple times. One of them, Genesis Valentin, described how two 14-year-old students were shot next to her as they hid in a classroom.

“They were gone instantly,” she said.

Another student spoke about how his ankle was “obliterated” from one of the many rounds the shooter fired that day. Another pulled up his shirt to show the intense scarring on his torso that was the result of being shot five times.

The group also heard a harrowing account of the scene and saw bodycam footage from the responding officers. 

And after Cruz murdered the 17 people, prosecutors explained how he went to Subway and bought a cherry and blue raspberry slushy. He then went to a McDonald's and sat across from the brother of one of the students he had just shot three times.

The Parkland shooting kicked off a gun control debate in the United States with some of the survivors, such as David Hogg, becoming prominent figures in the movement.

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