Florida school shooting suspect pleads guilty in hope of avoiding death penalty
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Florida school shooting suspect pleads guilty in hope of avoiding death penalty

Nikolas Cruz said he was 'very sorry' when addressing the families of the victims, among them Jewish students and a teacher

A former student at a Florida high school has pleaded guilty to one of America’s deadliest mass shootings.

17 students and teachers, some of them Jewish, were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.

This week Nikolas Cruz, 23, told the families of his victims that he was “very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day”.

He entered guilty pleas to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder – for each of the wounded victims – in the Valentine’s Day attack.

Students Alyssa Alhadeff, Jaime Guttenberg, Meadow Pollack and Alex Schachter, and Scott Beigel, a teacher, were among the Jewish victims of the mass shooting.

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the “cold, calculated and premeditated” killings, Broward County’s State’s Attorney Office in Broward County said in court documents.

Because prosecutors have vowed to seek the death penalty, his change of plea from not guilty would open the penalty phase in which a jury would decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death.

Cruz said he believed the families of the victims should decide “whether I live or die.”

In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence. If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide.

Before accepting his plea, Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked him if he understood the impact the assault case could have in the penalty phase of the murder case.

Some of the teenagers who survived the deadly rampage formed “March for Our Lives,” an organization that called for gun control legislation such as a ban on assault-style rifles.

In March 2018, the group held a nationally televised march in Washington that sparked hundreds of similar rallies worldwide.

Cruz was 18 when he legally purchased the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting from a licensed gun dealer.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments