A Change of Pace | Rosanne Pak
The Parkland Shooter trial is in a 2-week intermission until November. Here are a few things to catch up on before the trial starts back up:
Ever since Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty for the murders of 14 Stoneman Douglas high school students and 3 staff members in 2021, the trial of the Parkland shooter has been in motion for 3 months now. But things have taken an unexpected turn when on October 13, 2022, the jury recommended Cruz to be sentenced to life in prison rather than the death penalty for his crimes.
In a recent article by CNN, the jury concluded that Cruz was “eligible for the death penalty based on aggravating circumstances – but did not unanimously find that those aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.” Cruz’s defense attorneys put together evidence which revealed why Cruz should not receive the death penalty. This line of evidence included Cruz’s upbringing, which involved his mother heavily drinking alcohol and frequently taking drugs while she was pregnant with Cruz. Ultimately, Cruz’s team concluded that his rough childhood affected his mental state which resulted in the shooting. However, prosecutors argued that Cruz’s killings were premeditated for a few months before he followed through with his plan. In his closing statement, Assistant State attorney Mike Satz said that Cruz’s plan to murder “was goal-directed, it was calculated, it was purposeful and it was a systematic massacre.” The jury’s unanimous decision resulted in a 9-3 voting where most voted for the death penalty, but according to Florida Law, anything less than a 12-0 voting results in an automatic life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
In response to the jury’s verdict, the family’s of Cruz’s victims were outraged by the decision. Ilan Alhadeff, the father of 14-year-old victim Alyssa Alhadeff, expressed his disbelief saying, “I am disgusted with our legal system. I am disgusted with those jurors. I am disgusted with the system. That you can allow 17 dead and 17 others shot and wounded and not give the death penalty. What do we have the death penalty for? What is the purpose of it?” (FOX). Furthermore, the cousin of Peter Wang, another victim of Cruz, also spoke out on the verdict, stating that the shooting not only affected family members, but friends of the victim as well, as some later committed suicide after the shooting.
The judge of the Parkland Shooter trial, Elizabeth A. Sherer has now rescheduled the trial to resume until November 1, 2022. But until then, many are hoping for a change of pace leading up to the fate of Nikolas Cruz, and the hope to bring justice to the wrongful murders of the 17 victims.