FORT LAUDERDALE, United States – A US jury on Thursday refused to seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz , who shot and killed 17 people at his former Florida high school, opting instead for life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After deliberating all day Wednesday and briefly Thursday, the jury decided that Cruz, 24, should receive life in prison for the February 2018 murders of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
The request for the death penalty had to be unanimous and at least one or more of the 12 jurors found that it was not warranted due to mitigating circumstances.
During the verdict reading, Cruz, dressed in a striped sweater and oversized glasses, stared blankly toward the defense table as several relatives of the victims in the public area shook their heads in disbelief.
Cruz pleaded guilty in 2021 to the Valentine's Day murders four years ago, and prosecutors argued during a three-month trial that the appropriate sentence was the death penalty.
Melisa McNeill, her attorney, had urged jurors to show mercy to a young man she described as "brain damaged, mentally ill and broken."