(JustPatriots.com)- A jury recommended that the shooter in the Parkland school massacre be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, meaning he won’t face the death penalty.
While the jury recommendation is not the official sentencing, Florida law states that the judge in the case is not allowed to deviate from the sentence recommended by the jury.
The recommendation from the jury came after a months-long trial to decide the punishment for Nikolas Cruz, who in February 2018 killed 17 people and injured 17 more after he brought a gun to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Many of the families of the victims were not happy with the recommended sentence, as they were hoping for the death penalty.
In making their recommendation, the jury said the aggravating factors the state prosecutors presented in the case didn’t outweigh those mitigating circumstances that were brought up by Cruz’s defense attorneys — which led them to recommend life in prison rather than the death penalty.
Following the recommendation being read, the father of Gina Montalto, one of the 14-year-old victims, said it was a “gut punch” for his families and all the victims’ families. Tony Montalto said “the monster that killed them gets to live to see another day.”
Outside of the courtroom earlier this week, Montalto said:
“This shooter did not deserve compassion. Did he show compassion to Gina when he put the weapon against her chest and chose to pull that trigger, or any of the other three times that he shot her? Was that compassionate?”
In October 2021, Cruz, who is now 24 years old, plead guilty to 17 counts of attempted murder and 17 counts of murder. During the shooting, three school staff members and 14 students were killed, while another 17 were injured.
Due to the plea agreement, there was no trial for his conviction. Instead, the sentencing phase is all that proceeded.
A day after the sentence recommendation was handed down, the jury foreman in the case said that three of the jurors didn’t vote for the shooter to face the death penalty.
Benjamin Thomas, who served as the jury foreman, said one of those people was a “hard no,” while two others also voted for life in prison rather than a death sentence.
In addition, the state of Florida has asked the court to grant them the right to interview a juror who voted for the shooter to get a life sentence after she reported “what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the room.”
On Thursday, after the recommendation was read in court, the juror called prosecutors to tell them about what happened, according to a recent court filing. The filing states:
“Juror X spoke to a support staff member and informed the support staff members that during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room. The State did not call Juror X back and instead, filed a Notice to the Court.”