FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Nikolas Cruz received a life sentence, although many of the victims’ families were asking for death.
The jury delivered their verdict after seven hour of deliberations, Thursday.
Judge Elizabeth Scherer read out the names of each of the 17 victims who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
As life sentences were announced, the 12 jurors found there were aggravating factors to warrant the death penalty for each victim, but they also said there were mitigating circumstances that outweighed those factors.
Loved ones cried, putting their heads in their hands as they realized Cruz would not be receiving the death sentence.
Many were visibly angry.
Chris Hixon’s son, Corey Hixon, walked out of the courtroom after the judge read out the jury’s verdict for his father’s murder.
As the court entered recess, families and loved ones held each other. They expressed their disappointment outside the courtroom.
“This is insane. Right? Everyone knows, right? This is insane,” said Chen Wang, who lost her cousin Peter Wang in the shooting.
“We should have had the death sentence given out today because he took 17 leaves, and he attempted to take 17 more, and it could have been more, and he planned it meticulously,” said Anne Ramsay, who lost her daughter Helena.
“I sent my daughter to school, and she was shot eight times. I am so beyond disappointed and frustrated with this outcome. I cannot understand. I just don’t understand,” said Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa.
Broward County officials also responded to the verdict.
“We hope that, while there is no such thing as closure, there will never be closure, we’ll never find closure, but I do hope this will bring some measure of finality and justice to this terrible chapter,” said Harold Pryor, a Broward State Attorney.
“It’s more important that we as community respect the jury’s verdict and that the jury’s verdict is final,” said Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes.
One juror briefly commented on the trial.
“Hardest thing in my life,” the juror said.
“Any words for the families? Victims?” asked reporters.
“Very sorry for their losses,” she added.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 1 where the victims will be granted one final opportunity to address the condemned killer.
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