The families are getting the final say before the Parkland shooter is sentenced.
Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison this week, but not before the families of the 17 people he murdered get the chance to speak to him.
A two-day hearing is scheduled to begin Tuesday that will conclude with Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer formally sentencing Cruz for his Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School. The jury at his trial could not unanimously agree that he deserved a death sentence, so he was sentenced to life without parole, an outcome most of the families criticized.
Each of the families of the 14 students and three staff members Cruz killed can speak. The families gave highly emotional statements during the trial, but were restricted about what they could say about their loved ones. The wounded were able to say what happened.
They were not allowed to say anything about Cruz, a violation would have resulted in a mis trial. The jurors were told they couldn’t consider the family statements when making a decision about whether or not Cruz should die.
Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina was murdered, said they are looking forward to speaking without the restrictions that were imposed upon them.
Gordon Weekes, the public defender who represents Cruz, said he has no problem with the families expressing their anger to Cruz.
Weekes said it was definitely so. The sentencing hearing is not only an accountability process, but there are some cathartic pieces that come from it.
After expressing their anger, the community will be able to hear it and the court will be able to hear it.
Weekes said that Cruz is not expected to speak. He apologized in court last year after pleading guilty to the murders and attempted murders, but the families told reporters they found the apology to be self-serving.
The jury voted 9 to 3 in favor of the death penalty for Cruz during the three-month trial that ended in 23 October. Under Florida law, unanimity is required for a death sentence to be carried out.
According to prosecutors, Cruz planned the shooting for seven months, firing 140 shots with a semi-automatic rifle down the hallways and into classrooms. Some of the wounded victims were shot to death by him. Cruz said that he chose February 14th so that it would never be celebrated at the school again.
Cruz’s attorneys never questioned the horror he inflicted, but focused on their belief that his birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnant time left him brain damaged and condemned him to a life of erratic and sometimes violent behavior that culminated in the massacre The history is what it is.
After Cruz is sentenced, he will be transferred from the Broward County jail to the state correctional system’s processing center near Miami, then later to a maximum-security prison according to his lawyers. The Florida Department ofCorrections did not respond to a request for comment.
Ron McAndrew believes that because of Cruz’s notoriety, officials at that prison will place him in protective management, separated from other inmates, to keep him from being harmed.
McAndrew said that Cruz’s cell will be 9 feet by 12 feet with a bed, sink and metal toilet. He will be allowed alone into an outdoor cage that is 20 feet by 20 feet (6 meters by 6 meters) where he can bounce a basketball for an hour a day. Florida prisons don’t have air conditioning. Cruz will be last in line for education and rehabilitation because he has a life sentence.
Cruz will be kept in protective management until prison officials believe it is safe to place him into the general population, which could take years. It is possible that Florida could send Cruz to another state in exchange for a notorious prisoner, so both could have more anonymity, the former warden said.
McAndrew said that Cruz will eventually be placed in the general population. He will be required to work and live with other prisoners. At 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds, Cruz had difficulty defending himself, though he did attack and pin a jail guard. McAndrew said that a more physically imposing prisoner could become his protection but that comes with a horrible price.
Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of teacher Scott Beigel who was murdered by Cruz, said she hopes Cruz has the fear in him every second of his life like he did to our loved ones.
Craig Trocino, a University of Miami law professor, said one benefit of Cruz getting a life sentence is that he will fade from public view; a death sentence would have brought a decade of appeals with the possibility of a re trial. All the steps would have been covered.
Trocino said that no one will hear about him until he is dead.
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