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WATCH: Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life in prison without parole

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/2/2022 Kaelan Deese

The gunman who murdered 17 people in 2018 at a South Florida high school, 24-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday by Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

Before the sentencing that imposed a mandatory life sentence for each count of murder, Scherer said she wanted to "thank the family members for the privilege of learning about each and every one of your loved ones."

"I can tell you that they will not be forgotten, and I feel that I know each and every one of them by the personal stories that you have given," Scherer added.

Cruz's sentencing came after two days of nonstop testimony from family and friends of victims killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which marked the deadliest mass shooting at a United States high school in history.

"You were a hateful bigot with an AR-15 and a God complex," former classmate Samantha Fuentes, a survivor of the shooting, told Cruz ahead of his sentencing on Wednesday. "The people you killed will have a legacy much greater than yours. ... My name is Sam Fuentes. You will not forget me. You will not forget us until the last day you breathe."

Annika Dworet embraces Sam Fuentes, right, who was injured in the 2018 school shootings, after Fuentes gave her victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Dworet's son, Nicholas, was killed, and their other son, Alexander, was injured. Cruz was sentenced to life in prison for murdering 17 people at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School more than four years ago. Dworet's husband Mitch, left, watches. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool) Amy Beth Bennett/AP © Provided by Washington Examiner Annika Dworet embraces Sam Fuentes, right, who was injured in the 2018 school shootings, after Fuentes gave her victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Dworet's son, Nicholas, was killed, and their other son, Alexander, was injured. Cruz was sentenced to life in prison for murdering 17 people at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School more than four years ago. Dworet's husband Mitch, left, watches. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool) Amy Beth Bennett/AP

WATCH: JUDGE IN PARKLAND SHOOTER TRIAL UNLEASHES ON CRUZ'S DEFENDER, DISMISSES HIM

Following his sentencing, Cruz will likely be held in Broward County custody before he is handed over to the Florida Department of Corrections and taken to one of several reception centers in the state.

Scherer was forced to impose a sentence of life without parole after a jury in the gunman's penalty trial did not unanimously agree that he deserved the death penalty last month. Many of the testimonies from victims on Tuesday and Wednesday included criticism of a Florida law requiring jury unanimity in order for a death sentence to be imposed.

The jury voted on Oct. 13 to spare him from execution.

Meghan Petty, the older sister of a 14-year-old who died during the Valentine's Day shooting four years ago, said Tuesday that Cruz "escaped this punishment because a minority of the jury was given the power to overturn the majority decision made by people who were able to see him for what he is: a remorseless monster who deserves no mercy."

Petty's younger sister, Alaina, was one of 17 victims who died as Cruz roamed the halls of the school for nearly seven minutes with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, firing roughly 140 shots.

Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, wore a school shirt in an attempt to blend in with a crowd of fleeing students before he was arrested hours later. He had planned the shooting for seven months.

Before the penalty trial decision last month, defense attorneys said Cruz’s lifetime of struggles in both home and school should prevent him from receiving the death penalty, citing 41 possible mitigating circumstances. They noted that in his youth, he was exposed to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine in utero and that he had a "neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure."

Numerous people giving their testimonies on Tuesday and Wednesday railed against Cruz's defense team for succeeding to get him out of the death penalty, including Patricia Oliver, who lost her son Joaquin.

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"Karma," she said Tuesday, "will eventually catch up to you all." Her husband, Manuel Oliver, was the final speaker on Wednesday and echoed his wife's sentiments.

"So, if you were trying to be the cool guy, you're not. You're the worst. How does it feel? Nobody likes you. Sad. You know who they love? Joaquin. "

 

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Tags: Nikolas Cruz, Parkland, Florida, parkland shooter, School Shootings

Original Author: Kaelan Deese

Original Location: WATCH: Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life in prison without parole

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