Parkland Shooter Receives Life Sentence


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Nikolas Cruz, 24, was issued a life sentence without the possibility of parole on Oct. 13, for the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018.

Families of the victims expressed their outrage and dissatisfaction with the jury’s sentencing of life without parole.

Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, the father of victim Alyssa, said, “I’m disgusted with those jurors. That you can have 17 (murdered) and not give the death penalty.”

Of the 17 victims, 14 were students and three were teachers. In 2021, three years after the mass shooting, Cruz was found guilty of their deaths. The jury had to reach a decision if the death penalty should be an option of punishment for Cruz. 

According to the New York Post, “(the crime was) one of the deadliest and most merciless mass slaughters in the nation’s history.”

In response to the decision against the death penalty, the jury said there were “mitigating circumstances,” including mental illness and experiences from childhood. 

In an article by Selim Algar and Priscilla DeGregory of the New York Post, they write, “Cruz’s defense attorneys had argued that the killer’s traumatic and dysfunctional childhood had served as mitigating factors in the massacre… But prosecutors pushed for the death sentence, saying that the depraved and premeditated nature of the bloody slayings warranted the ultimate penalty.”

The defense said that Cruz’s biological mother was an alcoholic and drank during pregnancy, and expert witnesses claimed that Cruz suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, causing his brain to have deteriorated.

The prosecution exposed from jailhouse interviews with Cruz that he studied methods from the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings on how to carry out his plan. 

CNN reported, “The jury found the aggravating factors presented by state prosecutors did not outweigh the mitigating circumstances.”

Mitigating circumstances refer to elements of the offender that lessen the degree of criminal responsibility. Aggravating factors, on the other hand, are the elements of the offender that increase their responsibility. 

Sentencing judge Elizabeth Scherer will decide the formal sentence for Cruz on Nov. 1 of this year.