Jury Rejects Death Penalty for Parkland School Shooter, Who Gets Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Feb. 14, 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

A jury has sentenced the Parkland, Fla., school shooter to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2018 massacre that killed 18 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting. During his sentencing trial, which began in July, prosecutors had sought the death the death penalty while defense attorneys asked for life in prison.

Fourteen students and three staff members were killed attack, which then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott described as an act of "absolutely pure evil."

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Charles Lambeth and Joey Wong (l-r) alumni of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School look on at the school on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz for the mass shooting that killed 17 people on February 14. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

The school shooting became a catalyst for efforts to curb gun violence. Just five weeks after the massacre, a coalition that began with student survivors of the Parkland shooting staged the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., then launched a cross-country caravan to engage local communities in an effort to change gun laws.

Among the memorable moments from that rally, student Emma Gonzalez, who became one of Parkland's most prominent voices after the shooting, stood silent for most of her time on stage as a timer counted the 6 minutes and 20 seconds it took the gunman to complete his carnage.

Us Kids documentary
Emma Gonzalez, center, and other youth activists against gun violence. Us Kids documentary

On the first day of the sentencing trial, prosecutors presented emotional student testimonies and harrowing recordings of screams, cries and gunshots captured by victims waiting to be rescued, multiple outlets reported at the time.

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According to The Washington Post, some family members of victims left the courtroom while the recordings played. One woman pleaded for the video to be shut off, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.


While hiding in a classroom, former student Danielle Gilbert captured cell phone footage of the terror, which was presented by prosecutors, per The Post.

"We were just sitting — kind of like sitting ducks," Gilbert, who took the stand, said of the massacre. "We had no way to protect ourselves."

The fatal victims of the attack were Luke Hoyer, 15; Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Aaron Feis, 37; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Martin Duque, 14; Chris Hixon, 49; Scott Beigel, 35; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Cara Loughran, 14; Peter Wang, 15; Gina Montalto, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Alex Schachter, 14, and Helena Ramsey, 17. All died from fatal gunshot wounds.

17 others were injured in the shooting.

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