A Florida jury recommended that Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who shot 17 victims at a Parkland school last year in 2018, be sentenced to life imprisonment
The jury could not agree unanimously that he should receive the death penalty, despite his prosecution asking for him to be executed.
When the jury disregarded the prosecution’s call, some relatives of victims sighed in court.
Lori Alhadeff, the mother of Alyssa, stated that she was beyond disappointed by the decision to sentence her daughter to life imprisonment.
“This should have been 100% death penalty. On February 14, 2018, seventeen people were murdered. My daughter was sent to school by me and was shot eight times.
“I am beyond frustrated and disappointed with this outcome. It is beyond my comprehension. I just don’t understand.”
Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty to premeditated Murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high School last year.
He was 19 years old at the time when he killed 14 students and three school staff members with a semi-automatic assault weapon in , one of America’s most horrific school shootings.
After three months of hearing testimony and listening to lawyers’ arguments, twelve jurors came up with their recommendations after seven hours of deliberations that lasted two days.
Florida law allows for death sentences to be handed down only if all jurors have unanimously recommended Cruz’s execution.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will issue the sentence at a later time.
Cruz claimed that he had chosen Valentine’s Day so it would be impossible for Stoneman Douglas students ever to celebrate the holiday again.
The prosecution argued that Cruz’s crime was premeditated, heinous, and cruel during the three-month-long sentencing trial. These details are among the criteria Florida law uses to decide on a death sentence.
Although he was convicted of serious crimes, his defense team asked jurors for mitigation factors. This included lifelong mental disorders that resulted from the substance abuse by his biological mother during pregnancy.
Cruz had apologized for his crimes and requested a life sentence with no parole possibility to allow him to devote his life to helping others.
Witnesses from the shooting were called in to testify. Mobile footage was also taken of students screaming for help and whispering as they hide during the attack.
Mike Satz, the lead prosecutor, focused on Cruz’s eight-month-long planning and the seven-minute period during which Cruz stalked the school firing 140 shots with his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle before fleeing.
Melisa McNeill, Cruz’s lead lawyer, and her team didn’t question his horrific actions, but instead focused on the fact that his birth mother had been a heavy drinker during pregnancy, which they believed led to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
According to experts, his violent and troubling behavior, which began at age two, was mistakenly diagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He never received the correct treatment.
His team and Mr Satz argued that Cruz was not afflicted by foetal alcohol damage, but rather an anti-social personality disorder.
The witnesses claimed Cruz faked brain damage and was capable of controlling himself, but chose to ignore it.
Cruz was also shown several videos discussing the crime by the prosecution with mental health professionals. He talked about his motivation and planning.
Cross-examination revealed that Cruz was raped and sexually molested by a neighbor aged 12, when he was nine years old.
This massacre led to renewed calls to tighten gun control in the US. The shootings of 19 children and 2 teachers at Uvalde, Texas, and another shooting at Buffalo, New York left 10 people dead, respectively, led to increased support for the cause.