Florida jury recommends life in prison for school shooter Nicolas Cruz over 2018 Parkland massacre U.S. News

A Florida jury recommended a life sentence for school gunman Nicolas Cruz for the 2018 Parkland massacre that killed 17 people.

Cruz pleaded guilty to attempted murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.

Expelled student kills 14 students and 3 staff with semi-automatic assault rifle at 18 One of the worst school shootings in America.

After three months of testimony and arguments by lawyers, the 12 jurors finally reached their recommendations after two days of seven-hour deliberations.

Relatives of many of the victims could be seen shaking their heads and some crying as life sentences were announced.

In Florida, the death penalty can only be imposed if jurors unanimously recommend Cruz be executed.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally deliver her sentencing at a later date.

More on Florida school shootings

Cruz has said he chose Valentine’s Day so that Stoneman Douglas students would never be able to celebrate it again.

During the three-month sentencing trial, the prosecution argued that Cruz’s crimes were both premeditated, heinous and cruel — details in the standard for death sentences under Florida law.

His defense team acknowledged the gravity of his crimes but asked jurors to consider mitigating factors, including lifelong mental health disorders caused by his birth mother’s substance abuse during pregnancy.

Cruz apologized for his crimes and asked for a life sentence without parole in order to dedicate his life to helping others.

Shooter Nicolas Cruz was in court today. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool
Image: Associated Press
Nicolas Cruz

Sentencing procedures included testimony from shooting survivors, as well as cellphone footage of students calling for help or whispering while in hiding during the shooting.

Attorney General Mike Satz focused on Cruz’s eight-month plan and the seven minutes he spent wandering the school hall, firing his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle 140 times before escaping.

Cruz’s lead attorney, Melissa McNeill, and her team did not question the horror of his actions, focusing instead on their belief that his biological mother drank heavily during pregnancy causing him to suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

His disturbing and sometimes violent behaviour from the age of two was misdiagnosed as ADHD, meaning he was never treated properly, their experts said.

A high school student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School weeps for shooting victim Meadow Pollack in front of the Cross and the Star of David, while a classmate comforts her at the school's memorial on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.  REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A school in mourning – Marjory Stoneman Douglas students days after deadly attack

Mr. Satz and his team believe Cruz did not suffer from fetal alcohol damage, but has antisocial personality disorder.

Their witnesses said Cruz faked brain damage during the test and was able to control his behavior, but he chose not to.

Prosecutors also played several videos of Cruz discussing the crime with their mental health experts, in which he talked about his plans and motives.

During cross-examination, the defense accused Cruz of being sexually harassed and raped by a 12-year-old neighbor when he was nine.

The massacre has led to renewed calls for stronger gun control in the US, gaining further support this year after 19 children and 2 teachers were shot dead A school in Uwald, Texas and another shot A supermarket in Buffalo, New Yorkresulting in 10 deaths.

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