Jury in Florida asks for life sentence for 2018 Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz

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By Euronews  with AFP
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz   -   Copyright  Amy Beth Bennett/ South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022

A jury in Florida on Thursday spared the life of Parkland high school shooter Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

Last year, Cruz pleaded guilty to premeditated murder. After three months of hearings, the jury recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On 14 February 2018, Nikolas Cruz, then aged 17, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland -- a small town north of Miami -- from which he had been expelled a year earlier. 

He killed 14 students and three school employees, and wounded 17 others.

Families of the victims were visibly distraught when it became clear the death penalty would not be requested. Many greeted the news with grave faces, one shaking his head in disagreement. 

They will be able to speak at a hearing on 1 November, when the magistrate will formally endorse the sentence.

Despite the aggravating circumstances of the case, the jury took into account mitigating factors, such as mental problems resulting from his mother's substance abuse during pregnancy.

The massacre sparked student movements and nationwide marches in support of stricter gun control, which organisers said were among the largest of their kind to have taken place in the US.