Following dramatic statements from victims and victims’ households, a Florida choose is anticipated to formally sentence Parkland faculty shooter Nikolas Cruz to life in jail with out parole Wednesday for the 2018 campus bloodbath that killed 14 college students and three employees members.
Circuit Decide Elizabeth Scherer is anticipated to comply with the jury’s advice to spare the 24-year-old the demise penalty, as an alternative sentencing him to a lifetime behind bars. Final month, in a 9-3 vote, a jury leaned towards sending Cruz to demise row, however Florida regulation dictates that something lower than a unanimous vote robotically shifts the sentence to life with out parole.
Prosecutors had sought the demise penalty, whereas the protection had requested for all times in jail. The jury’s choice on Oct. 13 shook relations of victims who had been visibly distraught by the decision.
Through the the three-month penalty trial, the protection argued that Cruz is mentally sick and his situation led him to the 2018 Valentine’s Day rampage through which he wielded a semi-automatic rifle at his former faculty, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College.
Cruz pleaded responsible in October 2021 to 17 counts of homicide.
On Tuesday, survivors of the taking pictures and victims’ family members had the possibility to ship impression statements earlier than the sentence was formally introduced.
Stacey Lippel, a trainer at Parkland who was shot and survived, instructed Cruz: “You don’t know me however you tried to kill me.”
“I’ll have a scar on my arm and the reminiscence of you pointing your gun at me ingrained in my mind without end,” she mentioned earlier than the court docket, wanting Cruz within the eyes.
She mentioned she’s left with emotions of horror and guilt.
“Horror on the reminiscences of what you left behind in your wake and the guilt that I’m left with as a result of I want I might’ve completed extra to save lots of my co-workers and college students who you killed,” she mentioned.
Debbi Hixon, the widow of Chris Hixon, a trainer who bumped into the varsity to attempt to cease the shooter, instructed the gunman: “I hope that your identify and existence are erased from society.”
The dad and mom of Ben Wikander, a pupil who survived being shot within the again, stomach and arm, spoke of his agonizing ache and lengthy street to restoration — saying he nonetheless has a methods to go.
“No matter ache you expertise in jail will sadly be a fraction of what Ben endured,” his father, Eric Wikander, mentioned.
Max Schachter, the daddy of Parkland sufferer Alex Schachter, 14, argued that Cruz had obtained a spate of psychological well being assist and known as out the protection attorneys for claiming that he had fallen by way of the cracks.
“There’s so many individuals on this nation that suffer psychological sickness,” he mentioned. “They’re not going out torturing and murdering harmless folks.”
Marlene Lenthang and The Related Press contributed.