‘Miscarriage of Justice’ Parkland Shooter’s Sentencing Sparks Debate About Death Penalty

On Thursday, four years after the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the lives of seventeen people, Nikolas Cruz was brought to justice after receiving a life sentence without parole.

Or was he?

Many of Florida’s residents, including families of the victims and Florida politicians, have expressed outrage that Cruz did not receive the death penalty.

Ed Brodsky, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, lamented Florida’s law that requires a unanimous vote from jurors to impose the death.

“When there is an overwhelming majority and sentiment about what the ultimate penalty should be, should one minority voice be able to dominate and hijack justice?” said Brodsky, the elected state attorney for Sarasota County and its neighbors.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis echoed Brodsky’s complaints, saying there must be reforms to ‘better serve’ victims of crimes.

“We need to do some reforms to be better serving victims of crimes and the families of victims of crimes and not always bend over backward to do everything we need to for the perpetrators of crimes,” DeSantis said.

Florida initially allowed judges to impose the death penalty, but the United States Supreme Court struck the law down.

The legislature then passed another bill requiring juries to vote in favor of the death penalty by a 10-2 margin. That, too, was struck down by Florida’s Supreme Court.

The current law on the books requires a unanimous vote by a jury.

The mother of a teacher who Cruz killed at Stoneman Douglas High School questioned why Florida would have a death penalty at all if it could not be used on Cruz, who carried out one of the most horrific crimes in Florida’s history.

“If this was not the most perfect death penalty case, then why do we have the death penalty at all?” said Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of slain teacher Scott Beigel.

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A former defense attorney and prosecutor argued that it would be wrong to punish Cruz with the death penalty if he was truly mentally ill.

“At first glance, you think to yourself, ‘My God, how can you not vote for the death penalty?'” said Richard Escobar, a Tampa defense attorney and former prosecutor. He has tried capital cases in both roles. “But you’ve got to reflect and think to yourself, ‘If this person was truly mentally ill, you shouldn’t impose the death penalty because they got that mental illness through no fault of their own.'”

Robert Dunham, who serves as the Death Penalty Information Center’s executive director, said that it was not immediately clear that Cruz ‘deserved’ the death penalty on account of his mental illness.

“It’s not a question of does the murder warrant the death penalty. (Cruz) is clearly the type of case in which a jury could reasonably impose the death penalty,” Dunham said. “The question is ‘Does the defendant deserve the death penalty?'”

What do you think? Did Nikolas Cruz deserve the death penalty?  Leave a comment below.

Additional stories you may want to read:

Controversial decisions ahead in Parkland trials for shooter and Deputy Peterson

Parkland Shooting Accountability: DeSantis Suspends Four Broward County School Board Members


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