Reuters, November 2 – Following hours of heartbreaking testimony from survivors and the families of the deceased, Nikolas Cruz, the Florida high school shooter who used a semi-automatic weapon to kill 17 students and staff, was officially sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.
Cruz, 24, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release last month after a jury decided against giving him the death penalty for one of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history. Cruz underwent a three-month punishment trial earlier this year after entering a guilty plea to premeditated murder for his rampage on February 14, 2018.
Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer granted the prosecution’s motion to give Cruz’s victims’ kin an opportunity to speak in front of the court before the verdict was made. Victim impact statements were heard on Tuesday before the sentencing process began.
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Many victims’ kin condemned the jury’s verdict and challenged a state rule that calls for unanimous consent from all 12 jurors in order to carry out an execution sentence. How much worse of a crime would be required to demand the death penalty? Nicholas Dworet, the victim’s 17-year-old mother, said Annika Dworet.
Some family members chastised Cruz’s defense attorneys as well, pointing out that Cruz had a fundamental right to legal representation as they futilely appealed to the judge about the criticism of them and the jury on Tuesday. Numerous victims’ family members spoke directly to Cruz, who was seated at a table with his public defenders while sporting scarlet prison overalls and handcuffs and hiding his face behind big spectacles and a COVID-19 mask.
When the mother of one of his victims informed him that continuing to wear his mask was disrespectful, he removed it. He was referred to as “pure evil” by Helena Ramsay‘s mother, Anne Ramsay, who is 17 years old. Inez Hixon referred to him as a “domestic terrorist” for the murder of her father-in-law, Chris Hixon, the athletic director of the school.
Cruz attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, roughly 30 miles (50 km) north of the courtroom in Fort Lauderdale, when he was 19 years old. He had been dismissed from the institution. Since the United States has the greatest percentage of private gun ownership in the world and frequent mass shootings, some of the survivors went on to organize a youth-led movement for stricter gun laws there.
Cruz barely spoke once during the session, responding to the judge’s inquiries concerning his comprehension of the proceedings. Cruz was shot in the leg, and Samantha Fuentes asked him if he remembered looking at her as she was bleeding in the classroom. She called him a “hateful bigot with an AR-15 and a god complex.” You are nothing without your silly gun, I tell you.
Victoria Gonzalez informed Cruz that she and her lover Joaquin Oliver, 17, were classmates in the same class. Joaquin Oliver was one of the people Cruz killed. She apologized to Cruz, saying, “I’m sorry you never experienced the love that this world is capable of offering.” “Knowing whether you survive or die does not determine my sense of justice. Knowing that I had a love that many people never have in their lifetimes gives me a sense of fairness.”