Nikolas Cruz murdered 14 students and three teachers in a Florida school on Valentine’s Day, 2018. He later pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
More than four years after Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and began firing indiscriminately, a jury of seven women and five men recommended that spend life in prison.
The sentencing trial took three months. The jurors voted for a life sentence on 15 of the 17 counts. Judge Elizabeth Scherer will make the final decision on Nov. 1.
Judge Scherer read that the jurors found that Cruz’s crimes were enough to justify the death penalty, but in many cases, they decided there were “mitigating circumstances” and thus decided on the life sentence.
Cruz’s defense attorneys argued for leniency due to the fact that Cruz’s natural mother was an alcoholic, crack-addicted prostitute and that her substance abuse affected his brain from an early age. However, as an infant, Cruz was adopted by a couple who provided a stable home for him.
FACT-O-RAMA! Jailhouse recordings of Cruz and a psychiatrist revealed he had been fantasizing about mass shootings for years before he went on his murderous rampage.
Jurists and reporters toured the section of the school where the shooting took place, which has been preserved as a crime scene. Valentine’s Day teddy bears still litter the floor. Class lessons are still written on the chalkboards. Pools of blood remain where students were killed. Bullet holes are still visible.
A window in a teacher’s lounge has six bullets in it. Next to it on the wall is a poster that reads, “Typical or Troubled? Notice: Notice if you are seeing troubling signs in a student. Talk: Talk with the student. Act: Share observations with school mental health staff. Changing a life’s course.”
Cruz turned down his right to tour the school.
FACT-O-RAMA! Cruz told a psychiatrist that he choose Valentine’s Day for his murderous shooting spree, “Because I thought no one would love me. I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and I wanted to ruin it for everyone.”
Cruz testified that he studied the school shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine before planning his atrocities.
Former students who survived the killings told jurors that Cruz, in his six-minute shooting binge, circled back to finish off kids he had wounded.
Judge Scherer could decide on November 1 to sentence Cruz to death.