In February of 2018, Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida armed with multiple firearms, and proceeded to fatally shoot 17 students and faculty members. Yesterday, Cruz took the stand in front of a Florida court, observed by the relatives of those he killed both in person and remotely via Zoom. As Cruz was read his list of 34 charges, he plead guilty to each one, making clear that he had full understanding of what he had done.
Following his pleas, Cruz gave a brief speech to the families of the deceased. “I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. If I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others,” he said. “I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me. And I love you, and I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do.”
In response to Cruz’s speech, Tony Montalto, father of one of the slain students, told CNN “If he wanted to apologize, he shouldn’t have murdered Gina and 16 other people that day.”
BREAKING: Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to murder in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. A penalty trial will determine if Cruz will receive a sentence of death or life in prison without parole. https://t.co/LLJx0M5Ean
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 20, 2021
The jury selection process for Cruz’s final sentence will begin in January. At minimum, Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison, though prosecutors have made clear their intentions to seek the death penalty. When asked about this possibility, Montalto said, “We need to deprive these mass murderers of the notoriety they seek. . . . We need to remember the victims for the wonderful and vibrant people that they were.
“I think he deserves as much of a chance as he gave my daughter and everyone else on February 14 of 2018.”