A PARKLAND shooter juror announced that negotiations were getting “very tense” after admitting he wanted to vote for life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Nikolas Cruz, 24, will spend the rest of his life in prison after murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. in 2018.
Cruz avoided the death penalty after a jury ruled that he should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for all 17 counts of first-degree murder.
The 12-member panel found that prosecutors identified aggravating factors that warranted a death penalty, but these aspects were outweighed by mitigating circumstances put forward by the defense.
Extenuating circumstances are grounds for showing clemency to an accused.
The decision did not come without controversy, with a juror revealing that some wanted Cruz sentenced to death.
“The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy when I mentioned that I was voting for life,” the juror wrote in a letter to Justice Elizabeth Scherer.
“I just wanted to bring this matter to your attention.” the letter ended.
THEY “LEAVE THE FAMILIES”
The victims’ family members were shocked when the decision was made, and many relatives criticized the verdict.
“This jury failed our families today,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting. “Seventeen families were not given justice.”
Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex was shot, said Cruz was a sociopath who should have been sentenced to death.
“We thought he would be held accountable for his actions,” he said after the hearing, adding that he and his wife were “devastated” by the decision.
Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the Parkland massacre, called the jury’s decision not to hand down the death penalty “quite unreal”.
“The monster that killed her will live another day,” he said after the verdict, adding, “Society really needs to look and re-examine who and what a victim is.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also disappointed by the jury’s decision, saying he didn’t believe “anything other than a death penalty is appropriate.”
Cruz’s brother, Zachary, released a statement saying he concurred with the jury’s decision on a life sentence, which he described as a “worse fate than death.”
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of my brother’s crimes. I will have much to say about the Broward District Attorney and the Broward School Department in the coming days and weeks,” Zachary said.
“Today is not the day for that. Today is a day when victims can find peace in knowing that this trial is finally over.”
“My brother was sentenced to life imprisonment today. While many people wanted death, I know that my brother will be forced to live with what he did for a very long time.
“In the long run, that could be a fate worse than death, and it’s the fate he deserves for committing heinous crimes against innocent people.”
Cruz will not be formally sentenced until November 1st.
Family members of the victims, such as Corey Hixon, whose father Chris was murdered, will have another opportunity to provide victim testimony about how this has affected them.
Although the jury has reached its verdict, Cruz said that when he indicted himself about a year ago, the victims’ families “should decide his fate.”
“I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. I believe it is your decision to decide where I go and whether I live or die, not the jury’s decision; I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry,” he said.
At the time, Cruz told the courtroom and the victim’s families that he was “very sorry” for what he had done and then lived with his actions every day.
Cruz arrived at the MSD campus in Parkland, Florida at approximately 2:19 p.m. on Valentine’s Day 2018.
After going through an unguarded security gate and assembling an AR-15, which he stashed in a pocket, Cruz opened fire for six minutes.
In the massacre he shot 17 people and injured 17 others.
Cruz later explained to a Missouri neuropsychologist named Robert Denney that he committed the horrific act to ruin Valentine’s Day.
He said nobody loved him and that’s why he wanted to end this day in the future.
“I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and I wanted to ruin it for everyone,” he said.
After Denney followed up and asked if he wanted to ruin the holiday for the victims’ families, Cruz explained that it was all about the school celebration.
“No, for school. The holiday will never be celebrated there again,” Cruz said.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6440088/nikolas-cruz-juror-deliberation-life-sentence-parkland-shooting/ The Parkland shooter’s juror reveals negotiations got “very tense” after they admitted they wanted to vote for a life sentence