Nikolas Cruz update: Gunman enters sentencing trial five years after Parkland School Shooting

Nikolas Cruz will go through the final phase of sentencing on Monday (Photo via Getty Images and Sheriff's Office)
Nikolas Cruz will go through the final phase of sentencing on Monday (Photo via Getty Images and Sheriff's Office)

The final phase of the sentencing trial for Nikolas Cruz, the man responsible for the Parkland School Shooting, will start on Monday. Nikolas, 23, is charged with murdering 17 people.

The seven-man and five-woman jury, backed up by 10 alternates, will hear from lead prosecutor Mike Satz and decide on the verdict for Cruz.

Since Nikolas Cruz has already pleaded guilty, the only thing that remains to be seen is whether he gets a life sentence or the death penalty. However, there must be a unanimous verdict for Cruz to get the death penalty - if even one juror votes against it, he will get a life sentence.

The trial has been delayed for several years for many reasons. First, the Covid pandemic resulted in a delay, and afterwards, the prosecutor requested more time to interview the mental health experts who are part of the case. Finally, the members of the jury had to be whittled down from a 1000-person pool, which further caused a delay in his trial.

The sentencing trial is expected to be a long one and it may take over four months to reach the final verdict. During the trial, the jury will go through all the case-related evidence once more and will be exposed to graphic elements like pictures from crime scenes and autopsy photos. They may also tour the three-story classroom building where Cruz methodically stalked the halls, shooting at anyone in front of him and into classrooms.

The crime scene has remained intact since the shooting occurred and remains blood-stained and bullet-pocked.

Nikolas Cruz is responsible for killing 17 people

On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, entered the school building wielding an AR-15 rifle and went down hallways and classrooms, killing anyone he could find.

By the end, he had killed 14 students, three staff members, and grievously injured 17 others. He ran from the scene by hiding among fleeing students before getting caught a few blocks away.

Apparently, Cruz had a troubled childhood and was suffering from mental issues. Stephen Harper, the public defender for Nikolas Cruz in the case, said:

"His mother was apparently an alcoholic and a drug abuser. And in utero, he would have been exposed to very serious things that could have affected clearly his mental capacity. So those things are very relevant."

Cruz apologized for his actions and asked for a second chance during his earlier trials, saying:

"I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day. And that if I would get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others."

The deadly massacre brought many changes to the laws regarding buying firearms in Florida.

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