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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

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.

Cruz confessed to the police affidavit shortly after the shooting of a probable cause, but then pleaded not guilty. His attorneys later said he would change his guilty plea if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table, but they never did. Despite this, he switched his position to guilty in all 34 points and set the stage for the penalty period.

14 students and 3 faculty members were killed

On the afternoon of February 14, 2018, the then 19-year-old Cruz, who were expelled by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, took an Uber to his former high school, after a lecture on the facts of the case, which public prosecutor Michael Satz recited on October 20 during the hearing at which Cruz pleaded guilty. Cruz was carrying a rifle bag containing an AR-15 rifle and a backpack with firearm magazines and a tactical vest, Satz said.

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.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to murder and apologizes for Parkland High School massacre

“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.

Margarita Lasalle (right) and Joellen Berman look on at the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as faculty and staff return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on February 23, 2018.

Millions awarded to victims’ families in civil cases

The effects of the shooting extended far beyond Parkland, a small Florida town about 50 miles north of Miami. In the weeks that followed, survivors and families of the victims spoke out, confronting lawmakers with demands for more action Gun Violence in American Schools.
Students across the US joined them and staged their own protests and school strikes. That movement culminated just over a month after the March for Our Lives massacre, when hundreds of thousands of protesters taking part in hundreds of marches across the country called for gun control reform. “Never again” was the rallying cry of the demonstrators.
While the full effect of the move is difficult to quantify, a year after the massacreAt least 67 new gun safety laws were enacted in 26 states, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said at the time.

But school shootings have continued, with about 130 recorded on US campuses involving K-12 students since Parkland, according to CNN.

The judge says the case can go to trial against former Parkland school resource officer Scot Peterson
However, the activism inspired by the Parkland shooting has continued. Last month, on the fourth anniversary of the March for Our Lives in Washington, activists from the organization Thoughts and Prayers spelled out more than 1,100 body bags on the National Mall. This was reported by the CNN subsidiary WJLA. Each represented life the organization said had been lost in gun-related deaths since Parkland.
And civil lawsuits brought by the families of the Parkland victims have been settled. The US Department of Justice has settled 40 civil cases related to the shooting for $127.5 million said in a statement last month, adding that the settlement “does not constitute an admission of guilt by the United States.” The FBI recognized after shooting Among other things, it didn’t respond to a tip about “the potential of[Cruz]to conduct a school shooting.”
Broward County Public Schools, the district to which Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School belongs, announced in December that it would pay more than $26 million to 51 plaintiffsincluding the injured and the families of the 17 people killed.

“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.

Meanwhile, Broward County Deputy Sheriff Scot Peterson, a school resource officer who was criticized for not confronting Cruz during the shooting, has pleaded not guilty cases of child neglect. A trial is scheduled for September.

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

Chris Estrada

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