Families of Parkland Shooting Victims Address Gunman Before Sentencing: “I Pray You May Be Pained and Tortured”

The two-day sentencing hearing of the Parkland school shooter began Tuesday with the families of the 17 people he murdered addressing him about the emotional and often angry devastation brought to their lives.

Rebecca Jarquin speaks on behalf of the grandmother of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhdef, who was shot and killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School by Nicolas Cruz on February 14, 2018.

“You made a decision, and I pray that you are spared and harassed both physically and mentally because of it,” Jerkin read from a statement. “… I’m tortured every day knowing that I won’t get any calls saying ‘Grandma, will you,’ or ‘Grandma, I love you.’ I just have memories now.”

after the gunman spared from the death penalty Last month, Alyssa’s parents Ilan and Lori Alhadeff criticized the jury’s decision.

Ilan Alhadeff said, “I am disappointed with our legal system. I hate those jurors.” “That you can allow 17 dead and 17 others to be shot and wounded and not give the death penalty? What do we have with the death penalty?”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Debra Hixon — the wife of athletic director Chris Hixon, a Navy veteran trying to stop the shooting — was the first to address the gunman. The killer wore a bright red prison jumpsuit and showed no emotion from behind a face mask.

“You stole her from us, and you didn’t get the justice you deserved,” said Debra Hixon. “There is no mitigating circumstance that could be more heinous and cruel than the way you stole it from us.”

Chris Hixon is wounded and falls to the floor, where the gunman shoots him again. He spent more than 10 minutes trying to get back on his feet before he died.

“You were given a gift, a gift of grace and kindness—something you didn’t show to any of your victims,” ​​Debra Hixon told the gunman. “I want nothing for you today. After today, I don’t care what happens to you. You will be sent to jail, you will begin your sentence, you will be number one, and for me you will cease to exist.”

Shara Kaplan reacts as she hears the announcement of the verdict in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting trial at Broward County Courthouse on October 13, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that Nicolas Cruz would not receive the death penalty.
Shara Kaplan reacts as she hears the announcement of the verdict in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting trial at Broward County Courthouse on October 13, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that Nicolas Cruz will not receive the death penalty. Kaplan’s daughter, Meadow Pollack, was killed in the 2018 shootings.

Pool via Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Reuters

On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Shire will formally sentence her to life in prison without parole, after the families of the deceased and the 17 gunshot wounded have had a chance to speak. He has no other choice as the jury could not unanimously agree in a recently concluded penal trial that the 24-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student deserved the death penalty.

The families made highly emotional statements during the trial, but were restricted about what they could tell to jurors: they could only describe the murders that took place on their loved ones and their lives. The wounded could only say what had happened to them.

He was barred from addressing the gunman directly or saying anything about him – a violation would have risked misbehavior. And jurors were told that they could not consider the family’s statements as a provoking factor because they weighed in on whether the gunman should die.

Now, the grieving and wounded can speak directly to the gunman if they wish.

What won’t happen is Fred Gutenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was shot in the back by a gunman as he tried to escape. He tweeted on Tuesday that nothing would change if he addressed the “monster” who killed his daughter, which the defense team believes he is.gave up humanity“to defend him or the teacher” They say Fake bravery. He would thank prosecutors and others who supported the families, but said even that would not matter.

“The reality is that I will still visit Jaime in the graveyard and the fate of the monster will not change. It has already been decided. With that decision, the monster is out of my head,” Gutenberg wrote, He Told He’ll only think twice about the gunman – when he sees he’s being sentenced And “When I read the news reporting of prison justice that it will eventually receive.”

Lawyers for the gunman say he is not expected to speak. He apologized after pleading guilty to murders and attempted murders in court last year – but the families told reporters he received the apology volunteering and was intended to gain sympathy.

That plea set the stage for a three-month fine trial, which ended on October 13 with the jury voting 9-3 for the death penalty – jurors believed to be those who voted for life. The gunman was mentally ill and should be spared. Under Florida law, the death penalty requires unanimity.

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