The jury during one of the penalty phases of Nikolas Cruz who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland proposed life in prison rather than the death penalty for the shooter.
Nikolas Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty last year to 17 charges of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Due to the brutality of the killings, the jury was stuck delivering whether he should get the death penalty or he should get life in prison without the possibility of parole.
To get the death penalty, all 12 jurors on the case would have to agree that Nikolas’s crimes and actions are worthy of the death penalty.
The jury unanimously found that there had been aggravating factors in the brutal murders Cruz committed. But, at least one juror concluded that for each murder, those factors did not outweigh mitigating circumstances in his case, and thus the death penalty is not merited — resulting in the proposal of a life sentence.
In the reading of the verdict sheets for the 17 counts of murder that stretched about an hour, observers and families of the victims could not grasp what the jury had decided.
Several people in the courtroom, including families of the victims, shook their heads in disbelief and had tears in their eyes as it became clear that the jury had proposed a life sentence for Cruz rather than the death penalty.
Following the jury’s recommendation, prosecutors requested that those who were victims of Cruz be allowed to present testimony about the crime and what they see as the appropriate sentence.
The judge of the case, Elizabeth Scherer agreed to the prosecutor’s request which would happen in the next penalty phase in weeks to come.
Cruz carried out the massacre on Valentine’s Day in 2018. He was 19 at the time and had been expelled from the school. He entered a school building through an unlocked side door and used an AR-15-style rifle to kill 14 students and three staff members, as well as wound 17 others.