FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA (AP) – Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s two-day sentencing hearing begins today with the families of the 17 people he murdered getting their chance after almost five years to address him directly about the devastation he brought to their lives.
After they and the 17 people Cruz wounded get their chance to speak, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally sentence him to life in prison without parole for his February 14, 2018, massacre at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She has no other option as the jury in his concluded penalty trial could not unanimously agree that the 24-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student deserved a death sentence.
The families gave highly emotional statements during the trial, but were restricted about what they could tell jurors.
His attorneys said Cruz is not expected to speak. He apologised in court last year after pleading guilty to the murders and attempted murders.
That plea set the stage for a three-month penalty trial that ended on October 13 with the jury voting 9-3 for a death sentence – jurors said those voting for life believed Cruz is mentally ill and should be spared.