The formal two-day sentencing for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz began Tuesday and should conclude today. It was the first time the victims’ families were able to directly address the shooter in court.
“I hope your every breathing moment here on earth is miserable and you repent your sins, Nikolas, and you burn in hell,” said Theresa Robinovitz, grandmother of 14-year-old Alyssa Alahadeff, who died in the massacre.
Last month a jury spared the 24-year-old from the death penalty, instead recommending life in prison without parole for the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 14 students, two coaches and a teacher.
Victims’ loved ones and survivors of the shooting had a chance to share their heartbreak and assail the sentence before it is formally handed down by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.
“But what we’ve been told here is that 17 lives are worth nothing if you can make enough excuses for your actions,” said Meghan Petty, sister of 14-year-old victim Alania Petty, “He has gotten everything he’s wanted in this case, and we are left with nothing and a slap in the face to top it off.”
Debbie Hixon, widow of Chris Hixon, a teacher who ran into the school to try to stop the shooter and died that day, told the murderer: “He was stolen from us by an unimaginable act that you planned and executed. You stole him from us, and you did not receive the justice that you deserved. There is no mitigating circumstance that will ever outweigh the heinous way you stole him from us.”
Cruz, wearing a single-color one-piece jumpsuit and glasses, appeared to make eye contact with the speakers as they faced him.
The jury’s recommendation of life in prison last month left many victims family members outraged, with some saying the shooter deserved the death penalty.
“Well, every day without Gina is a tough day, we hope to begin wrapping up the sentencing of the mass murderer who took her life and getting him out of the public eye,” said Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina died that day.