Most Jurors Backed Executing Cruz, Foreman Says

3 members believe killer to be mentally ill
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
Most Jurors Backed Executing Cruz, Foreman Says
Nikolas Cruz sits at the defense table with Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill as the verdicts are read Thursday in his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.   (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

A majority of the jury wanted the killer of 17 people at a Florida high school in 2018 to be executed, but three of the 12 members would not support the death penalty, the foreman said Thursday. So Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Benjamin Thomas, the foreman, told WFOR he respected the other jurors' decisions. "It didn’t go the way I would've liked or the way I voted, but that's how the jury system works," he said. "Everybody gets their vote; everybody gets to decide."

The three jurors in the minority said they couldn't vote for the death penalty because they believe Cruz to be mentally ill, Thomas said. Imposing the death penalty in Florida requires a unanimous vote, per the New York Times. Serving on the jury was difficult, Thomas said, partly because of the evidence they had to look at of the horrific killings. Jurors watched video of Cruz walking the school's hallways, shooting some of the victims at point-blank range, per the Washington Post. They also went to the high school and saw classrooms unchanged since Feb. 14, 2018. "A lot of things you never wanted to see, and you never want to see again," Thomas said. (More Parkland school shooting stories.)

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