Parkland shooting trial: Nikolas Cruz acquitted

Parkland shooting trial: Nikolas Cruz acquitted

For the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members, gunman Nikolas Cruz will get a life term in prison.

While the decision was being announced, Cruz, 24, took off his spectacles and seemed pale. He kept his eyes fixed on the defense table.

After just one day of deliberation, the jury issued a judgment recommending life in prison without the possibility of release. In November, there will be a hearing to determine the sentence.

A death sentence could only have been given in accordance with Florida law if the jury had unanimously recommended his execution. Life in jail was the only alternative choice.

Cruz was recommended for the death punishment by the jury, but Reuters quickly published a correction.

Cruz’s crime was claimed to be deliberate, atrocious, and cruel during the three-month sentencing hearing, which is one of the requirements Florida law specifies for determining a death sentence.

Cruz’s legal team recognized the seriousness of his actions but urged the jury to take into account mitigating circumstances, such as lifelong mental health issues brought on by his biological mother’s drug usage when she was pregnant.

As the judge went aloud all 17 names in the order they were shot by Cruz and the suggested punishment, families and friends of the victims were clearly upset in the courtroom.

Before the reading even started, Gina Montalto’s parents started grabbing one other’s hands and wailing the whole time. Mother of Luke Hoyer was also in tears.

Both the mother and father of Alaina Petty and Jaime Guttenberg had their hands on their heads.

The decision was made following the trial, which ended earlier this week. The prosecution painted Cruz as a cold-blooded killer, while the defense maintained that Cruz is really merely a brain-damaged child who was doomed in the womb due to his biological mother’s drug and alcohol usage while she was pregnant.

In the course of their six hours of deliberation on Wednesday, the jury first demanded that two testimonies be read aloud, and then, just before the day’s proceedings came to a close, they sought to view the AR-15 that Cruz had used in the killings.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office objected to showing the revolver to the jury for “security concerns,” but it was determined shortly before the start of day two of deliberations on Thursday that the rifle would not be exhibited with the firing pen.

Cruz lawfully acquired the rifle in 2017, and it had already been shown to the jury during witness testimony back in July.

Sgt. Gloria Crespo of the Broward sheriff’s office previously testified that Cruz, who was 19 at the time, still had five magazines with 160 rounds each in the vest. In seven minutes of stalking the three-story building, he had fired more than 100 rounds into classrooms and through halls.

The images Crespo took of the five children and one instructor who died on the third level were also exhibited to the jury. All of the victims had suffered numerous gunshot wounds.

On Wednesday, the jury debated for almost six hours. During that time, several of the jurors requested to have the prosecution’s cross-examination of the defense psychologist who testified that Cruz had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder be read back to them.

They asked to see the AR-15 again at the conclusion of the day.

Deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s Office informed Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that they couldn’t provide the information to the jury for “security reasons,” therefore this was “beyond” her “pay grade,” and she was going to remain in her lane.

Michael Satz, the lead prosecutor, protested, claiming he had seen similar in several other instances and even labeled the circumstance as “ridiculous” and “preposterous.”

Early on Thursday, it was determined that the jury would see the firearm without the firing pen.

The Cruz massacre is the bloodiest mass shooting case tried in the United States. In the US, nine other gunmen who killed at least 17 people each incident committed suicide or were slain by law enforcement.

Both sides’ closing statements came to a conclusion earlier this week, with the prosecution—which is seeking the death penalty—characterizing Cruz as a cold-blooded killer. Cruz’s defense lawyer was pleading for compassion and the life sentence as the only alternative choice.

By his own admission, Cruz said that five years prior to the Valentine’s Day disaster, he had first considered carrying out a school shooting while still in middle school. He said that he chose Valentine’s Day to ensure that it would never again be observed at the school.

He bought an AR-15-style semi-automatic gun almost precisely a year before the rampage, and his preparations became serious about seven months beforehand as he did research on prior mass shooters, stating he sought to benefit from their experience.

Following three months of testimony, both sides’ lawyers made one last pitch on Tuesday for the death penalty or a life sentence.

The prosecution and defense agreed that the assault in 2018 that left 17 people dead was terrible, but they argued in their closing statements on whether it was a wicked crime deserving of the death penalty or one committed by a damaged individual who should serve a life sentence in jail.

The 12 jurors were presented with conflicting images of what motivated Cruz’s assault at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018 by the lead prosecutor Mike Satz and his defense opponent Melisa McNeill.

To propose that a judge sentence Cruz to death under Florida law, a jury must reach a unanimous verdict.

The punishment trial started in July and has included evidence from gunshot survivors as well as footage taken on students’ mobile phones showing them screaming for assistance or speaking in whispers as they hid.

The defense introduced witnesses who discussed Cruz’s mental health issues, which were brought on by his biological mother’s drug usage while pregnant.

»Parkland shooting trial: Nikolas Cruz acquitted«

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