Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida in 2018, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Florida jurors announced on Thursday, October 13.
Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty last year to killing 14 students and three staff members. He also wounded close to 17 people when he carried out one of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S.
For each of the 17 first-degree murder charges in the case, the jury of seven men and five women determined that Mr. Cruz should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The months-long trial included witness testimonies from teachers and students. During the trial, they read statements about their traumatic experiences where they watched their friends and students die. The victim's grief-stricken parents also issued their testimonies to the jurors, Reuters reported.
Cruz will be brought back to court on November 1 to face the survivors of the attack. According to reports, the surviving victims will read statements. Judge Elizabeth A. Scherer, who had announced the jury's decisions, stated that the sentencing would take place at a hearing on the same date.
Details on Nikolas Cruz's trial
In a three-month trial that was held to determine whether the defendant would be sentenced to death or life in prison, prosecutors argued that Nikolas Cruz willfully shot and killed innocent victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In Florida, however, jurors must unanimously decide whether to sentence the perpetrator to death.
During the trial, the prosecution submitted a video that captured the horrifying incident. They also produced autopsy photos.
Prosecutors in the case were seeking the death penalty as Cruz admitted that the attack was premeditated. However, Cruz’s defense team asked the jurors to consider mitigating factors in the case, which included lifelong mental health disorders caused by the biological mother abusing drugs during her pregnancy.
The jurors agreed that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors in the case and denied the death penalty.
What did Nikolas Cruz do?
On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle - purchased a year before the shooting - went into a shooting rampage at a Florida high school.
Cruz reportedly began shooting people down the school hall. He then went into the classrooms and shot multiple people. After reportedly killing 17 people and injuring 17 others, Cruz fled the scene. However, he was caught an hour later.
The ensuing investigations into the case revealed a premeditated plan where he researched mass shooters to learn from those incidents. He allegedly planned the attack on Valentine's Day in order to ensure that the holiday would never be celebrated again at the school.
During the trial, Cruz reportedly apologized for his crimes and asked for a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He said that he wants to spend the rest of his life helping others, Reuters reported.