FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (HPD) — Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre, was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday after the families of his 17 slain victims passed two days reproaching him that he was an evil, a coward, a monster and a subhuman who deserves a painful death.
Cruz, handcuffed and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, stood by as Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer handed down 34 consecutive life sentences, one for each of those killed and the 17 wounded during the Feb. 14 massacre. 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in suburban Fort Lauderdale.
The judge’s voice cracked when she read the first of the sentences, but then it gained strength and volume as she went down the list. Scherer had no choice; Cruz’s three-month trial jury voted 9-3 on Oct. 13 to sentence him to death, but Florida law requires unanimity for that sentence to be imposed.
The sentence was issued after two days in which parents, wives, siblings and other relatives of the murdered victims and some of the injured walked to a lectern to address him face to face.
The judge praised the families and the injured who testified, saying they had been strong, dignified and patient.
“I know they’re going to be fine, because they have each other,” Scherer said.
Some parents and other family members wept as she read. When she finished and Cruz was led out of the room, a father murmured, “Hasta siempre.”
Cruz, 24, will be transferred in a few days to the processing center of the Florida prison system, near Miami, before being assigned to a maximum security prison. Families and the injured spent two days verbally attacking Cruz, wishing him a painful demise and lamenting that he could not be sentenced to death.
Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro and David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.