Families Blast Cruz Decision: 'I Just Don't Understand'

Parkland, Florida, school shooter will not be executed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 13, 2022 12:40 PM CDT
Families Blast Cruz Decision: 'We Are Beyond Disappointed'
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz appears surprised as he is seated at the defense table for the verdict.   (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Nikolas Cruz will not be executed for killing 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, and families of the victims don't understand it. "We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today," Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa was killed, said at a news conference after the jury's decision was announced. "This should have been the death penalty, 100%. Seventeen people were brutally murdered on Feb. 14, 2018. I sent my daughter to school and she was shot eight times. I am so beyond disappointed and frustrated with this outcome. I cannot understand. I just don’t understand." Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty a year ago to murdering 14 students and three staff members and wounding 17 others.

Under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote on at least one count, per the AP. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally issue the life sentences Nov. 1. Relatives, along with the students and teachers Cruz wounded, will be given the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing. Cruz, his hair unkempt, largely sat hunched over and stared at the table as the jury’s recommendations were read. Rumblings grew from the family section—packed with about three dozen parents, spouses, and other relatives of the victims—as life sentences were announced. Many shook their heads, looked angry, or covered their eyes as the judge spent 50 minutes reading the jury's decision for each victim. Some parents sobbed as they left court.

The jury found there were aggravating factors for each victim, but they also found mitigating factors. And the jury could not agree that the aggravating factors that would have warranted the death penalty outweighed the mitigating ones. Tony Montalto, father of Gina Montalto, said: "How can the mitigating factors make this shooter, who they recognized committed this terrible act—acts, plural—shooting, some victims more than once on a pass, pressing the barrel of his weapon to my daughter’s chest. That doesn’t outweigh that poor little what’s-his-name had a tough upbringing?" "Our justice system should have been used to punish this shooter to the fullest extent of the law."

(Read more Nikolas Cruz stories.)

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