Parkland school killer Nikolas Cruz hides his face as gruesome massacre videos are played during his death sentence hearing

When Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, armed with a high-powered assault rifle and hundreds of rounds he would use to carry out one of the worst mass shootings in the history of United States, he warned a passing student. leave. “Something bad is about to happen,” he told them.

Memories of that horrific day resurfaced on Monday as a Florida court considered whether to give Cruz, now 23, the death penalty for killing 17 students and teachers and injuring 17 others. .

Prosecutors released cellphone video of the shooting, where gunshots could be heard and a voice was captured saying, “Someone help me.”

Danielle Gilbert, a student at the time, captured the videos and testified that she and her classmates felt like “sitting ducks”. She openly cried on the stand as the clip played.

In the gallery, many family members of the victims watched and could be seen consoling each other, while some rushed out of the courtroom rather than relive that day.

Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 murder charges and as many attempted murder charges, buried his head in his hands and appeared to cover his ears as another graphic video played, where screams and gunshots could be heard.

Because the 23-year-old has already pleaded guilty, Florida’s 12-person jury will instead decide his sentence: either a death sentence or life without parole.

The jury of seven men and five women, selected from a group of 1,800 candidates, will have to agree unanimously to impose a sentence of execution.

Prosecutors argued Monday that Cruz should be punished as strictly as possible for what they called a “planned and systematic mass murder.”

They cited a video Cruz made before filming, where he said, “My name is Nik.” I’m going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is to have at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It’s going to be a big event and when you see me on the news you’ll know who I am. You are all going to die. … I can not wait.'”

Prosecutor Michael Satz said the severity of the murders, the worst mass shooting in the United States ever prosecuted in court, “far outweighs any mitigating circumstances” Cruz had in his past.

The defense will likely argue that Cruz had serious developmental, mental health and behavioral issues, which could push the court towards a life sentence.

Cruz’s public defenders have elected to make their opening statements at a later date.

The shooter, who was kicked out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas before the massacre, had already apologized in court last year.

“I’m really sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day,” he said.

Cruz argued that the families of those killed should decide his sentence.

People connected to the shooting tragedy have expressed varying opinions about what should happen next.

Cameron Kasky, a Parkland student who became a gun reform activist, said a death sentence would be “barbaric”.

The punishment, Mr Kasky said in a tweet on Sunday, “will not bring back any of the victims” and “create a false sense of justice, which will only come when the arms manufacturers and the politicians who support them are held accountable”. .

Others, like Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was killed, argued that execution was the best option.

“I think he should die and I think that’s not enough. … Even the death penalty is not enough,” he told WPLG.

Others have pointed to the need for more comprehensive gun control laws.

“Il y a une semaine aujourd’hui, j’étais à la Maison Blanche pour célébrer[leprésident[lasignaturedelalégislationsurlasécuritédesarmesàfeu”aécritFredGuttenbergdontlafilleaététuéedansuntweetlundi”Aujourd’huijesuisaupalaisdejusticepourledébutdelaphasedesanctionduprocèspénaldelapersonnequiaassassinémafilleavecunAR15C’estlaréalitédelaviolencearmée[thepresident[signinggunsafetylegislation”wroteFredGuttenbergwhosedaughterwaskilledinatweetonMonday“TodayIamattheCourthouseforthestartofthepenaltyphaseofthecriminaltrialofthepersonwhomurderedmydaughterwithanAR15Thisistherealityofgunviolence”[leprésident[lasignaturedelalégislationsurlasécuritédesarmesàfeu”aécritFredGuttenbergdontlafilleaététuéedansuntweetlundi”Aujourd’huijesuisaupalaisdejusticepourledébutdelaphasedesanctionduprocèspénaldelapersonnequiaassassinémafilleavecunAR15C’estlaréalitédelaviolencearmée[thepresident[signinggunsafetylegislation”wroteFredGuttenbergwhosedaughterwaskilledinatweetonMonday“TodayIamattheCourthouseforthestartofthepenaltyphaseofthecriminaltrialofthepersonwhomurderedmydaughterwithanAR15Thisistherealityofgunviolence”

Historically, mass shooters have generally not been given the death penalty.

Most of those who kill large numbers of people in public have been shot by the police or died by suicide.

Of those tried, 20 of the 178 mass shooters who have killed four or more people since the 1960s received the death penalty, while 32 were jailed, according to a study by the government-funded Violence Project federal.

Dylan Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black worshipers at a South Carolina church in 2015, was sentenced to death, but his lawyers appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing the killer chose to representing himself and wrongly kept evidence that he was mentally ill out of court.

Families who have lost loved ones in mass shootings and terrorist attacks have complicated feelings about the death penalty, because The Independent reported last year.

Reverend Sharon Risher lost her mother, cousins ​​and many dear friends in the South Carolina church shooting.

“In my heart, as my mother’s child, I wanted him to die like her,” she said. The Independent. “Going back to my Christian faith, I knew I didn’t want that. I realized that even though he had done this horrible thing, my faith tells me that God is a God of restoration and redemption.

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