Florida jury says man who confessed to Parkland faculty taking pictures must be sentenced to demise By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty shooter Nikolas Cruz speaks with paralegal Melissa Sly throughout a break within the penalty section of Cruz’s trial on the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., September 1, 2022. Amy Beth Ben

By Brian Ellsworth

(Reuters) -Jurors decided Thursday that Nikolas Cruz must be sentenced to demise for a 2018 faculty taking pictures in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 individuals.

Jurors decided in at the very least one of many murders that there have been aggravating components that might assist a demise sentence, however in different circumstances they didn’t.

Cruz, 24, had pleaded responsible final yr to premeditated homicide at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty. He used a semi-automatic rifle to kill 14 college students and three employees members in one of many deadliest faculty shootings in American historical past.

The prosecution throughout the three-month sentencing trial had argued Cruz’s crime was each premeditated in addition to heinous and merciless, that are among the many standards that Florida legislation establishes for deciding on a demise sentence.

Cruz’s protection group had acknowledged the severity of his crimes, however requested jurors to contemplate mitigating components together with lifelong psychological well being problems ensuing from his organic mom’s substance abuse throughout being pregnant.

Underneath Florida legislation, a demise sentence might solely have been handed down if jurors had unanimously really helpful he be executed. The one different choice was life in jail.

Cruz, who on the time of the taking pictures was 19 and had been expelled from the highschool, had apologized for his crimes and requested to be given a life sentence with out the opportunity of parole with the intention to dedicate his life to serving to others.

The sentencing proceedings included testimony from survivors of the taking pictures in addition to cellphone movies through which terrified college students cried for assist or spoke in hushed whispers as they hid.

The Parkland taking pictures had led to renewed requires tighter gun management in the US.

U.S. gun violence gained renewed consideration following mass shootings this yr at an elementary faculty in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 youngsters and two academics lifeless, and one other at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 individuals.

President Joe Biden in June signed into legislation the primary main federal gun reform laws in three many years, which he referred to as a uncommon bipartisan achievement.

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