(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Family members of the 17 students and staff killed in the Parkland high school massacre will have the opportunity to address gunman Nikolas Cruz in court on Tuesday as he’s sentenced to life in prison.
Last month, a Florida jury rejected prosecutors’ appeals for the death penalty, reaching a verdict on life in prison for the 2018 mass shooting Cruz committed at age 19 at South Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Many victims’ parents were outraged by the verdict, arguing that sparing Cruz the death penalty may send a bad message to future school shooters.
The jury’s decision needed to be unanimous to sentence Cruz to death.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Nov 01, 7:03 AM EDT
Outraged parents: ‘This jury failed our families’
Hours after the sentence was announced on Oct. 13, Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was among the victims, told ABC News Live he had hoped for the death penalty.
“Even the death penalty was not enough for me,” he said. “The way that Joaquin died … the amount of suffering and pain, the shooter will have never received that punishment.”
His wife, Patricia Oliver, told ABC News she feels enraged by the jury’s decision, and said her son did not get justice.
To jurors who voted against the death penalty, she said, “They have to live with that in their conscience. Life is about karma. They will remember what they did when the time comes.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the massacre, said he was “stunned” by the verdict.
“I could not be more disappointed,” he told reporters on Oct. 13. “I don’t know how this jury came to the conclusions that they did.”
“This decision today only makes it more likely that the next mass shooting will be attempted,” he said.
Guttenberg said he thinks the next mass shooter is planning his attack now, and “that person now believes that they can get away with it.”
“There are 17 victims that did not receive justice today,” Guttenberg said. “This jury failed our families today. But I will tell you: The monster is gonna go to prison, and in prison, I hope and pray, he receives the kind of mercy from prisoners that he showed to my daughter and the 16 others. … He will die in prison, and I will be waiting to read that news on that.”
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