Following Cruz’s guilty plea, the 12-person jury now set up for the sentencing phase will be asked to decide whether to recommend his execution. Six to eight deputies are also to be selected, the judge said during a hearing last week.
“There were 17 people killed, so there’s a story of 17 people killed,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff Marcus told the court why the sentencing phase could last into the fall. “And then there are 17 others that are considered aggravating factors in the case.”
The jury would have to unanimously agree that at least one aggravating factor — including the concurrent felony charges to which Cruz pleaded guilty or whether he knowingly created a risk of further deaths — existed among the 34 counts in order to then discuss whether he should face the death penalty.
If that happens, they must unanimously recommend the death penalty, otherwise his sentence would inevitably be life imprisonment. If they recommend the death penalty, the final decision still rests with the judge.
14 students and 3 faculty members were killed
When he arrived, Cruz walked into the high school’s three-story 1200 building, stepped onto the east stairwell, and began loading the rifle. A student ran into the stairwell, said Satz.
“You better get out of here,” Cruz told the student, according to prosecutors. “Something bad is about to happen.”
At approximately 2:21 p.m., Cruz opened fire in the hallway, Satz said, firing at students and teachers in hallways and classrooms as he walked through the building and through each floor. At one point, dust blown off the ceiling tiles by the gunfire set off the building’s fire alarm, sending students and teachers out of the classrooms and into the hallways.
Of those killed, 14 were students: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Lukas Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Pollock, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 14.
geography teacher Scott Beigel, 35; wrestling coach Chris Hixon, 49; and assistant soccer coach Aaron Feis, 37, were also killed – each while running toward danger or trying to help students to safety.
After the shooting, Cruz put down his gun, remaining magazines and tactical vest and fled to mingle with other students at 2:27 p.m., Satz said. He was arrested about 3 miles from the school that afternoon.
At the October hearing, Cruz replied “guilty” to each of the 34 charges before addressing the victims and their families in a brief statement in court.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” he said in part, “and I have to live with it every day.”
However, Cruz’s apology did little to comfort the parents of a murdered student, who called it “ridiculous.”
“I think he deserves as much opportunity as he gave my daughter and everyone else on February 14, 2018,” said Gina Montalto’s father, Tony Montalto, when asked if Cruz faces the death penalty.
Cruz has already been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting a prison guard in November 2018.
Millions awarded to victims’ families in civil cases
But school shootings have continued, with about 130 recorded on US campuses involving K-12 students since Parkland, according to CNN.
“While we recognize that no amount of money can heal these families, it is the school board’s hope that this settlement demonstrates our heartfelt commitment to the MSD families, students, staff and faculty and the entire Broward County community,” he said Interim district general counsel said.
CNN’s Denise Royal contributed to this report.
https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/04/us/nikolas-cruz-sentencing-parkland-shooting/index.html Sentencing of Nikolas Cruz: Jury selection begins today for a panel that will help decide whether the Parkland school gunman should receive the death penalty