Following Cruz’s guilty pleas, the 12-member jury currently assembled for the punishment phase will be asked to decide whether or not to recommend his execution. Six to eight alternates must also be chosen, the judge told a hearing last week.
“There were 17 people killed, so there’s a history of 17 people being killed,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff Marcus told the court when explaining why the penalty phase could last until the fall. “And then there are 17 others who are considered to be aggravating factors in the case.”
Jurors are expected to unanimously agree that at least one aggravating factor — including concurrent capital felony charges to which Cruz pleaded guilty, or whether he knowingly created the risk of further deaths — exists among the 34 charges for then start discussing whether he should face the death penalty.
If that happens, they must be unanimous in recommending a death sentence, otherwise his sentence would necessarily be life imprisonment. If they recommend capital punishment, the final decision is still up to the judge.
14 students and 3 faculty members were killed
When he arrived, Cruz entered the high school’s three-story 1200 building, entered the east stairwell, and began loading the rifle. In doing so, a student entered the stairwell, Satz said.
“You better get out of here,” Cruz told the student, according to the prosecutor. “Something bad is about to happen.”
At around 2:21 p.m., Cruz opened fire in the hallway, Satz said, shooting students and teachers in hallways and classrooms as he walked through the building and through each floor. At one point, dust buffeted from the ceiling tiles by the gunfire set off the building’s fire alarm, sending students and teachers out of classrooms and into hallways.
Among those killed, 14 were students: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14; Nicolas Dworet, 17; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Luc Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Olivier, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 14.
geography professor Scott Beigel, 35; wrestling coach Chris Hixon, 49; and assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 37, were also killed – each as they ran into danger or tried to help students to safety.
After the shooting, Cruz put down his gun, the remaining magazines and his tactical vest and fled, blending in at 2:27 p.m. with other students, Satz said. He was arrested that afternoon, about 3 miles from the school.
At the October plea hearing, Cruz answered “guilty” to each of the 34 charges against him before addressing the victims and their families in a brief statement to the court.
“I’m so sorry for what I did,” he said in part, “and I have to live with it every day.”
Cruz’s apology, however, did little to comfort the parent of a slain student, who called it “ridiculous”.
“I think he deserves as much luck as he gave my daughter and everyone else on February 14, 2018,” Gina Montalto’s father, Tony Montalto, said when asked about Cruz facing the death penalty. .
Cruz has previously been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to attacking a prison guard in November 2018.
Millions awarded to families of victims in civil cases
But school shootings have continued, with some 130 recorded on US campuses with K-12 students from Parkland, according to CNN’s tally.
“While we recognize that no amount of money can restore the integrity of these families, the school board hopes that this settlement will show our sincere commitment to the families, students, staff and faculty of MSD and the entire Broward County community,” the district interim said. said the Advocate General.
CNN’s Denise Royal contributed to this report.