Florida faculty shooter sentenced to life in jail
Nov 2 (Reuters) – Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 college students and employees with a semiautomatic rifle at a Florida highschool, was formally sentenced to life in jail on Wednesday after hours of harrowing testimony from survivors and victims’ kin.
Jury voted last month to spare Cruz, 24, the loss of life penalty, opting as an alternative for all times in jail with out the opportunity of parole for one of many deadliest mass shootings in U.S. historical past.
Final 12 months, Cruz pleaded responsible to manslaughter by madness on February 14, 2018, and earlier this 12 months he confronted a three-month trial.
Broward County Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer agreed to a request by prosecutors to permit kin of Cruz’s victims to testify earlier than sentencing. The sentencing course of started on Tuesday with sufferer impression statements.
Lots of the victims’ kin condemned the jury’s choice and criticized state regulation’s requirement that every one 12 jurors be unanimous in sentencing a convicted particular person to loss of life.
“How unhealthy does a criminal offense must be to justify the loss of life penalty?” mentioned Annika Dvoret, mom of 17-year-old sufferer Nicholas Dvoret.
Some kin additionally chided Cruz’s attorneys, who unsuccessfully challenged the decide on Tuesday about criticism of them and the jury, noting that Cruz had a constitutional proper to authorized illustration.
Lots of the victims’ kin straight addressed Cruz, who sat incomprehensibly behind outsized glasses and a COVID-19 masks at a desk subsequent to his public defenders, carrying crimson jail jumpsuits and handcuffs. He eliminated the masks when the mom of certainly one of his victims informed him it was disrespectful to maintain it
Ann Ramsay, mom of 17-year-old Helena Ramsay, informed him he was “pure evil”. Inez Hickson known as him a “home terrorist” for killing her father-in-law, the varsity’s director of athletics Chris Hickson.
Cruz was 19 on the time of his assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, about 30 miles (50 km) north of the courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. He was expelled from faculty.
A number of the survivors have organized a youth-led motion to tighten gun laws in the USA, which has the best price of personal gun possession on the earth and the place mass shootings have turn out to be frequent.
Cruz spoke solely briefly on the listening to, answering questions from the decide about whether or not he understood the method.
Samantha Fuentes, who was shot within the leg by Cruz, requested Cruz if he remembered wanting into her eyes as she lay bleeding in her classroom.
“You are a hateful bigot with an AR-15 and a god advanced,” she mentioned. “You are nothing with out your silly gun.”
Victoria Gonzalez, whose boyfriend, 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, was amongst Cruz’s slain, informed Cruz they have been in the identical class collectively.
“I am sorry you have by no means seen the love the world has to supply,” she informed Cruise. “My justice is to not know whether or not you reside or die. My justice is in figuring out that I’ve skilled a love that many individuals do not expertise of their whole lives.”
Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Pullin
Our requirements: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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