Explore

WATCH — Jurors Recommend Life Sentence for Parkland Gunman Who Killed 17

Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, seated with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz touches her hands to her head as the last of the 17 verdicts were read in the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Amy Beth Bennett-Pool/Getty Images)

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

A Florida jury Thursday recommended life in prison for Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty but, as the Palm Beach Post reports, “under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. While jurors found that the aggravating evidence was sufficient to warrant a possible death penalty for the gunman, at least one believed the mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones.”

Watch the moment circuit judge Elizabeth Scherer read the recommendations to the packed courtroom: 

The verdict concluded a graphic and emotional three-month trial, during which the killings of all 17 victims were detailed and recreated. 

The jury’s recommendation is binding and Judge Scherer will pronounce the sentence at a Nov. 1 hearing. That day, survivors of the shooting will also be offered an opportunity to speak publicly on the verdict. 

Some of our past coverage of the Parkland shooting: 

—Flashback: Parkland school shooting suspect pleads guilty to murdering 17 (Read more

—Families: FBI to pay nearly $130 million to Parkland families in ‘unprecedented’ settlement (Read more

—Trauma: Research shows heavy toll on survivors of school shootings (Read more

—What Comes Next: Principals traumatized by school shootings release guide to recovery (Read more)

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

On the 74 Today

Get our free newsletter

Get informed: Start your day with the most important education news.