Parkland school shooter gets life in prison without parole

Jurors in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom "found that mitigating factors, such as disorders described by witnesses as stemming from his biological mother's substance abuse during pregnancy, outweighed aggravating factors," therefore, decided against the death penalty.

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Image Credit: Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

On Thursday, a Florida jury called for Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018, be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Cruz, 24, who was 19 at the time of the mass shooting, pleaded guilty to premeditated murder last year.

Jurors in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom “found that mitigating factors, such as disorders described by witnesses as stemming from his biological mother’s substance abuse during pregnancy, outweighed aggravating factors,” therefore, decided against the death penalty, Reuters reported.

A jury “must be unanimous” when deciding on the death penalty that requires “a conclusion that aggravating factors outweighed mitigating factors on at least one criminal count” under Florida law, Reuters reported.

“There was one with a hard ‘no,’ she couldn’t do it,” Benjamin Thomas, jury foreperson, said.

Two other jurors “ended up voting the same way,” he said.

While this was the jury’s recommendation, prosecutors in the case “requested that those who were victims of Cruz be allowed to present testimony about the crime and what they see as the appropriate sentence” and the judge agreed to the request, the BBC reported.

In this case, the judge is unable to overrule the jury’s decision after Florida banned judicial override of death sentences in 2016.

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