Court Battles

Jury recommends life sentence for Parkland shooter, opts against death penalty

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz sits at the defense table for closing arguments in the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Cruz previously plead guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

A jury on Thursday recommended a life sentence for Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz, opting against recommending the death penalty.

Cruz pleaded guilty last October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 14 students and three staff members dead.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will make the final decision on whether to sentence Cruz to death or life in prison.

The jury, which needed to reach a unanimous consensus to recommend the death penalty, found that all 17 counts of first-degree murder had aggravating factors that were sufficient to warrant a death sentence for Cruz. However, they did not find that these outweighed mitigating circumstances.

Cruz’s attorney argued against the death penalty for her client throughout the sentencing trial, claiming that the Parkland gunman’s biological mother abused drugs and alcohol while pregnant with him, which caused brain damage.

Cruz will be sentenced on Nov. 1. The prosecution noted that the hearing is anticipated to be lengthy as the court hears from the victims.

Updated at 12:11 p.m.

Tags Death penalty Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School nikolas cruz Nikolas Cruz parkland Parkland school shooting Parkland shooting
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