Nikolas Cruz was formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for perpetrating a school shooting in 2018 that left 17 people dead and 17 others injured.
Just as throughout the trial, Cruz showed no emotions as each of the 34 life sentences was read aloud.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer read the sentences after two days of victim impact statements from the families of those killed or injured during the attack at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Parents, spouses, and siblings expressed their anger at Cruz and detailed their pain over the loss of their loved ones.
The process was highly emotional with parents of some of the 14 students killed describing the lives they had imagined for their children and the impact of Cruz’s shooting spree.
“She’d get her law degree, and maybe become one of the most successful business negotiation lawyers the world would see. … She was supposed to get married, and I was going to have my father-daughter dance,” said Ilan Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa died at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. “She would have had a beautiful family, four kids, live in a gorgeous house – a beach house on the side.”
“All those plans came to an end with Alyssa’s murder,” he said, per Business Insider.
Cruz’s defense team was observed wiping away tears at some points of the day.
Defender Gordon Weekes complained at one point that some of the comments constituted inciting violence and made reference to the attorney’s children. Chief Public Defender David Wheeler pressed the judge to take action against the comments.
“I feel that 99% or a great percentage that has been said has been appropriate,” Scherer said, per Meaww. “Everybody has maintained decorum but for a few comments. It’s best to just move on as opposed to highlight them.”
While formally sentencing Cruz, Scherer only said what was legally necessary and made no additional comment to the 24-year-old.
She did call the surviving victims and the impacted families strong, graceful, and patient.
“I know you are going to be OK, because you have each other,” Scherer said.
Scherer was legally obligated to honor the sentence recommended by the 12-person jury on Oct. 13. According to reports, three members of the jury believed Cruz is mentally ill and could not be sentenced to death. Florida law requires unanimous jury agreement for a defendant to receive capital punishment.
Once Scherer completed the sentencing, Cruz was led out of the courtroom. One father could be heard saying “Good riddance.”