On Feb. 14, 2018, a brutal and heinous act was committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Another school shooting rocked this nation. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people and wounded another 17. According to The New York Times, at the time, this was the second worst school shooting in the nation, falling right behind Sandy Hook in which the shooter, Adam Lanza, killed 28 people and injured another two.
After closing arguments, the jury was dismissed on Wednesday for deliberation following instruction from Judge Elizabeth Scherer. On day two of deliberation, the jury came back with a recommendation. In an 11-1 vote, the majority wanted the death penalty. However, under Florida law, in order for a recommendation of death to be imposed, a unanimous vote favoring the death penalty must pass. This was not the case. After the verdict came out, an outlash sparked in the media, especially from families of the victims.
The parents of Alyssa Alhadeff were outraged with the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. According to CNN, the parents said that they are, “beyond disappointed with the outcome.” The same idea was reiterated by Jaime Guttenberg’s father, who said, “the Parkland massacre victims’ families were robbed of justice.” And the cousin of Peter Wang released the following statement: “This monster killed 17 people, how can he live another day?”
Thirty-three days ago as of Thursday, excluding weekends and holidays, the punishment phase began. Cruz’s lawyer attempted to make the argument that he was mentally ill and unaware of the crimes he committed. Prosecution tried to prove that Cruz was fully aware, and that he deserves the death penalty.
Cruz pleaded guilty on Oct. 20, 2021 to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 accounts of attempted murder. Regardless of how Cruz pleaded, he would be eligible for the death penalty. Since the death penalty was restated in 1979, there have been a total of 99 executions in Florida, the most recent being 2019. The death penalty should be saved for those crimes, such as Cruz’s, that are egregious beyond reason.
Cruz should have been given the death penalty. There was conclusive testimony from psychologists that prove that Cruz was fully aware of what was happening and for that he must pay the ultimate price.