Exploring ‘Families Of Parkland Mass Shooting Arrive For Sentence Hearing’ A judge is expected to sentence the Parkland mass shooter Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 24, to life in prison in a sentencing hearing on Tuesday. Court beings at 9 a.m. ET. You can watch it in the player above.
Families Of Parkland Mass Shooting Arrive For Sentence Hearing
Authorities said he, a former student, entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a semiautomatic rifle and killed 17 people: 14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff, 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel, 14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano, 17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet, 37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, 49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon, 15-year-old student Luke Hoyer, 14-year-old student Cara Loughran, 14-year-old student Gina Montalto, 17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver, 14-year-old student Alaina Petty, 18-year-old student Meadow Pollack, 17-year-old student Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old student Alexander Schachter, 16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup, and 15-year-old student Peter Wang.
He pleaded guilty to 17 counts each of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, but prosecutors refused to budge on seeking the death penalty. The state showed at his penalty phase that he planned the attack in advance and did what he could it inflict maximum physical and emotional pain. For example, he returned to victims he had already shot so he could open fire on them again. He chose the day of the attack — Feb. 14, 2018 — to ruin Valentine’s Day.
But jurors did not reach the unanimous decision required by law to sentence him to death. They instead recommended life without parole on Oct. 13. The defense presented evidence that Cruz’s biological mother Brenda Woodard exposed him to drugs and alcohol by abusing substances when she was pregnant with him.
Judge Elizabeth Scherer scheduled the formal sentencing for Nov. 1 to give families time to prepare for victim impact statements. Some have already remarked bitterly on the life sentence.
“It’s pretty unreal that nobody paid attention to the facts of this case,” said Gina Montalto’s father Tony Montalto in a press conference after the jury’s verdict. “That nobody can remember who a victim is or what they look like. I know every day because I see my beautiful daughter’s face around our home, in my dreams, and I miss her very much.”
Peter Wang’s cousin Lin Chen called the result unjust. She said her aunt — Wang’s mother — was suffering from PTSD.
“And not just my aunt,” said Chen, starting soft-spoken and growing more visibly furious as she continued. “All the moms that I saw in the fucking courtroom, they are suffering, and this result made them suffer even more.”