The sentencing of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will begin Tuesday with victims and family members sharing their heartbreak before him in court.
A jury spared the 24-year-old from the death penalty last month, instead handing down a recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 14 students and 3 staff members.
Before the gunman is officially sentenced, those who survived the shooting and the loved ones of those who were killed or wounded will have the chance to share impact statements.
With so many who wish to be heard, the actual sentencing is expected to take place Wednesday, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The jury’s recommendation was met with tears and outrage by family members of the victims last month, with many saying the shooter deserved the death penalty.
The 12-person jury had to unanimously agree to back a death sentence. In the three-month penalty trial, the defense argued the gunman was mentally ill and should be spared.
The gunman had pleaded guilty in October 2021 to 17 counts of murder in the massacre.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, 14, said on Twitter he won’t share an impact statement at the hearing, saying, “Will it make me feel better?”
“I have decided that it simply won’t change reality or the way I feel. It won’t make me feel better. The reality is that I will still visit Jaime at the cemetery and the monsters fate will not change. It has already been decided,” he wrote.
“My future will no longer be dependent on the need to get through a criminal trial and wondering what will happen. That has been decided,” he explained. “My life is no longer dependent on the outcome of this trial and delivering another impact statement will not make me feel better and so I will not be doing so today.”