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Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will not be sentenced to death

Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will not be sentenced to death

He will be sentenced next month

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

The 24-year-old avoided the death penalty after the jury recommend a life sentence instead. He is set to be sentenced next month.

Cruz shot and killed 14 students and three members of staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. 

Cruz, who pleaded guilty, has faced a months-long trial, which culminated in sentencing recommendations today. 

Prosecutors had urged the jury to sentence Cruz to death, but his defence team had asked jurors to consider mitigating factors including Cruz’s life-long mental health problems.

Nikolas Cruz faces life in prison.

After three months of testimony, the jury took less than 24 hours to reach their decision of a recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prior to today's decision, lead defence attorney Melisa McNeill had urged jurors to give mercy to Cruz. 

She said: “What Nikolas Cruz did should make you angry and sad. There is nothing wrong with feeling those feelings.”

But added: “Giving mercy to Nikolas Cruz will say more about who you are, than it says about him.”

During the trial, she claimed her client had been ‘poisoned in the womb’ by his mother who had struggled with substance abuse. 

She said: “He was poisoned in the womb and because of that his brain was irretrievably broken through no fault of his own.

“His brain is broken, he’s a damaged human being and that’s why these things happened.”

McNeill said there was ‘no defence’ to her client’s actions but told the jury to think about the ‘root cause’ of the crime. 

She went on: “There’s no defence to these crimes. But I also know that wounded and damaged people want to damage other people because they are in pain... we must understand the person behind the crime; what was the root cause?”

The jury had also heard from the families of the victims of the horrific attack. 

Tribune Content Agency LLC/Alamy Stock Photo

Patricia Oliver, the mother of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, said her family had been left ‘shattered’ after the killing.

The judge has said Cruz will be sentenced on November 1. Victims and family members are expected to be given the opportunity to speak before the sentence is delivered.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

Featured Image Credit: Paul Hennessy / Abaca Press / Alamy

Topics: Crime, US News