[Closing arguments are set for Tuesday, Oct. 11]
After more than four years, the man behind the Parkland mass shooting will learn his fate. Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 23, is scheduled for his penalty phase to begin Monday, July 18 in Broward County, Florida. You can watch in the player above.
He pleaded guilty last year for opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz killed 17 people–both students and educators: 14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff, 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel, 14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano, 17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet, 37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, 49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon, 15-year-old student Luke Hoyer, 14-year-old student Cara Loughran, 14-year-old student Gina Montalto, 17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver, 14-year-old student Alaina Petty, 18-year-old student Meadow Pollack, 17-year-old student Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old student Alexander Schachter, 16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup, and 15-year-old student Peter Wang.
Charges were 17 counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Jurors have to decide whether Cruz will get death, or serve life without the possibility of parole. He apologized at his plea hearing last year but launched into a diatribe against drugs.
From his statement:
I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it everyday, and that if I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others, and I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me, and I love you, and I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares, and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do. I hate drugs, and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets. I’m sorry, and I can’t even watch TV anymore, and I’m trying my best to maintain my composure, and I just want you to know I’m really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go, whether I live or die, not the jury’s. I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.
[Image via Broward County jail]
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