A jury spared Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz from the death penalty Thursday for killing 17 people at a Parkland high school in 2018, sending him to prison for the remainder of his life in a decision that left many families of the victims angered, baffled and in tears.
The jury’s recommendation came after seven hours of deliberations over two days, ending a three-month trial that included graphic videos, photos and testimony from the massacre and its aftermath, heart-wrenching testimony from victims’ family members and a tour of the still blood-spattered building.
“We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today,” Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa was killed, said at a news conference after the jury’s decision was announced.
“This should have been the death penalty, 100%. Seventeen people were brutally murdered on Feb. 14, 2018. I sent my daughter to school and she was shot eight times. I am so beyond disappointed and frustrated with this outcome . I cannot understand. I just don’t understand.”
Under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally issue the life sentences Nov. 1. Relatives, along with the students and teachers Cruz wounded, will be given the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing.