US

‘You deserve to rot’: Parkland school massacre gunman sentenced to life in prison

The gunman who killed 17 students and staff in the Parkland school shooting has been formally sentenced to life in prison.

A jury in Florida voted to spare Nikolas Cruz from the death penalty last month, instead choosing life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The 24-year-old pleaded guilty last year to premeditated murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

The jury in Cruz’s three-month penalty trial voted 9-3 to sentence him to death last month, but the law in Florida requires unanimity for the sentence to be imposed.

On Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth Scherer sentenced him to 17 consecutive life terms for the 14 February 2018 massacre and an additional 17 terms for the attempted murders of those he wounded.

Relatives address killer

The sentence came after the relatives of the victims addressed him face to face over two days.

More on Florida School Shooting

Anne Ramsay, the mother of 17-year-old Helena Ramsay, told him he was “pure evil”.

Inez Hixon, daughter-in-law of school athletics director Chris Hixon, called him a “domestic terrorist”.

Anne Ramsay holds a picture of her daughter, Helena
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Anne Ramsay holds a picture of her daughter, Helena
Debbie Hixon holds a photograph of her husband, Christopher Hixon
Image:
Debbie Hixon holds a photograph of her husband, Chris Hixon

David Alhadeff, uncle of Alyssa Alhadeff, told Cruz he deserves “the opportunity to rot away”.

“You deserve the opportunity to absorb the look of terror on your face once you leave this courtroom,” he said.

“You deserve the opportunity of knowing that justice will prevail at some point, causing you great anguish, minute by minute, day by day.”

The judge commended the families and wounded who testified, calling them strong, graceful and patient.

“I know you are going to be OK, because you have each other,” Judge Scherer said.

A senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School weeps in front of a cross and Star of David for shooting victim Meadow Pollack while a fellow classmate consoles her at a memorial by the school in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas students days after the deadly attack

Cruz, an expelled student, was 19 when he used a semi-automatic rifle to kill 14 students and three staff members.

He had apologised for his crimes and asked to be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole in order to dedicate his lie to helping others.

The massacre led to renewed calls for tighter gun control in the US, which have gained further support this year following the shooting of 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas and another shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead.

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