Update on Nikolas Cruz’ trial


Soraya Masrour, Staff Writer

On February 14th, 2018, then 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a legally purchased gun. In under four minutes, he killed fourteen students, three staff members and injured seventeen others. Cruz, now 24, has pleaded guilty to seventeen charges of premeditated murder. 

The Parkland shooting is referred to as a massacre because it became the deadliest high school shooting in America. After the shooting, Cruz was immediately expelled from the school. After the hearings, a divided jury recommended that he be “spared” from the death penalty due to outside factors. 

The trial occurred over six months, during which time witnesses and victims of the massacre testified about the event. Chris McKenna, a freshman at the time of the tragedy, was on his way to the bathroom when he ran into Cruz in a stairwell. Cruz told McKenna, “You better get out of here. Things are going to start getting messy.” Though McKenna was a lucky survivor, many others were not. 

The jury’s decision upset many of the victims’ families. Prosecutors urged that Cruz’s victims be permitted to testify about the crime and what they believe should be the proper penalty after the jury’s recommendation. The request was granted by the judge, and it will take place in the next few weeks. 

Cruz’s defense lawyers argued that he had struggled greatly during his early childhood. His birth mother suffered from substance abuse problems throughout the pregnancy, which may have left him brain damaged. Cruz’s public defender claimed, “He was literally poisoned in her womb.” Cruz also witnessed his adoptive father die, which left his mother unable to properly care for her son. In addition, at nine years old, Cruz was raped by their twelve-year-old neighbor.

Cruz’s attorney explained how “Life in prison is still a horrible punishment,” especially because he is young mentally ill. In similar cases, these are crucial factors that determine the criminal’s punishment. In this instance, the judges did not feel that Cruz deserved the death penalty, despite the devastation that he inflicted.