Judge Sentences Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz to Life in Prison Without Parole

Judge Sentences Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz to Life in Prison Without Parole

UPDATE: A judge sentenced Nikolas Cruz to life in prison without parole on Nov. 2, per NBC News. He was responsible for the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.


A jury has spared Nikolas Cruz the death penalty.

On Oct. 13, Judge Elizabeth Scherera announced that a jury has recommended Cruz—who shot and killed three staff members and 14 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018—serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. This recommendation was for all 17 first-degree murder counts against the 24-year-old. The jury deliberated for less than 24 hours before announcing their decision.

After the verdicts were read, judge Scherera officially set a sentencing date for Nov. 1. During the November hearing, families of those killed in the shooting will be allowed to read victim impact statements.

On Valentine's Day in Feb. 2018, a then-19-year-old Cruz shot and killed 17 people and injured 17 others after entering his former school in the Miami suburb with an AR-15 rifle.

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Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder charges in 2021, but faced a trial over whether he'd face the death penalty.

During the three-month trial, which began in July, prosecutors presented a case for Cruz to receive the death penalty while the defense argued for a life in prison sentence. "One day I promise you, you will ask yourself, did I make the right decision?" Melisa McNeill, a member of Cruz's defense team, said to the jury during closing arguments on Oct. 11, per NBC News. "You will never forget voting for life."

While prosecutor Mike Satz countered, "The appropriate sentence for Nikolas Cruz is the death penalty."

Nikolas Cruz

Cruz's defense had previously attempted to show that his birth mother's behavior—including alleged alcohol abuse—while pregnant with him potentially led to his violent path.

This story was originally published on Oct. 13, 2022 at 9:52 a.m. and updated on Nov. 2 at 2:00 p.m. after the sentencing.