TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As judge Elizabeth Scherer read through 17 verdict forms in the Parkland school shooting trial on Thursday, family members of the victims shook their heads, showed signs of disgust, and shed tears.
The jury’s decision, to recommend Nikolas Cruz serve life in prison without parole for the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, came as a shock to many. The 12-person jury had been weighing a death sentence but did not come to the unanimous decision required for that sentence.
After the hearing ended, many family members of victims who were killed in the shooting did not hold back their anger at the jury’s decision.
“I’m disgusted with our legal system. I’m disgusted with these jurors,” Dr. Ilan Alhadeff said. “I am disgusted with the system.”
Alhadeff’s daughter, 14-year-old Alyssa, was killed by Cruz.
“I pray that animal suffers every day of his life in jail,” Dr. Alhadeff said.
He and others wondered – if the death penalty could not be applied in this case, then what case can it be applied in?
“Our justice system should have been used to punish this shooter to the fullest extent of the law. Not as an act of revenge, but to protect our nation’s schools,” said Tony Montalto.
Montalto lost his 14-year-old daughter Gina in the Parkland massacre.
Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jamie in the shooting, said he hopes Cruz is given no mercy in prison.
“I will tell you, the monster is going to go to prison and I hope and pray he gets the same mercy from other prisoners that he showed to my daughter and the 16 others,” said Guttenberg.