On Thursday, a Florida jury recommended life in prison without parole for 24-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the shooter who pleaded guilty to carrying out the murders of 14 students and three staff members on Valentine’s Day 2018 at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While jurors found Cruz was guilty of aggravating factors that warranted a possible death sentence, they said that they did not outweigh the mitigating factors. A unanimous decision would have been required to issue a death sentence under Florida law.
Lead prosecutor Mike Satz said in his closing statements that “the appropriate sentence” for Cruz would have been the death penalty. Judge Elizabeth Scherer will make a final ruling on the life sentence for Cruz following a hearing on Nov. 1, at which point relatives of victims and those he wounded during the shooting will have the opportunity to speak.
The defense abruptly rested their case Sept. 14, at which time Judge Scherer lambasted them for “the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case.” Prosecutors for weeks told the jurors how Cruz came to the school armed with a rifle and killed 17 people, calling him “cold, calculative, manipulative and deadly.”
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