Gov. Ron DeSantis took time out of a Thursday press conference to articulate his extreme disappointment at the jury recommendation to spare the life of the Parkland shooter that day.
“I just wanna say one thing about this verdict with the Parkland killer: I think that if you have a death penalty, at all, that is a case — where you’re massacring those students with premeditation in utter disregard for basic humanity — that you deserve the death penalty,” DeSantis said at a Lee County elementary school where the press conference took place.
He wasn’t alone. Many Florida politicians think life in prison for Nikolas Cruz isn’t “justice” for the 17 students and school staff he killed on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
“I just don’t think anything else is appropriate, except the capital sentence in this case. And so I was very disappointed to see that,” DeSantis said.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder, so the proceeding that ended on Thursday concerned only sentencing. Some of the victims’ parents were are shocked and devastated by the results, according to CNN.
Under Florida law, the jury’s duty was to weigh factors aggravating in favor of death against mitigating factors. Judge Elizabeth Scherer said that the final sentencing will take place on Nov. 1.
DeSantis is seeking reelection in November but his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, echoed the governor’s sentiment.
“There are crimes for which the only just penalty is death. The Parkland families and community deserved that degree of justice,” Crist said in a written statement Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Democrat running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in November, said in a written statement:
“I am disappointed at today’s verdict. Now, we must focus on the families who lost sons, daughters, and loved ones. We will continue our fight to keep innocent people from being gunned down in innocent places. The Senate needs to find the courage and compassion to do the bare minimum and keep our children safe by getting guns out of the hands of criminals, mass murderers, and terrorists.”
The Phoenix is awaiting a response from Rubio.
Sitting and former members of the Florida Legislature, including those from the Broward area or with direct connections to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, expressed their shock on social media platforms.
Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who served in the Florida House during the Parkland shooting, and who’s running for Congress now, tweeted Thursday:
“He should die. Even Death is not enough. This is travesty of Justice. Mass shooters get to live but there [sic] victims don’t, fucking unacceptable. He should be removed from ever existing. The 17 can never return and neither should he. I always stand with the Parkland families.”
“He should die 17 times!” Moskowitz added in a follow-up tweet.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Republican running for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, said in a written statement that, while he respects the jury process, he was “certainly disappointed by this outcome.”
“As a parent and a grandparent, I cannot fathom the depth of despair they must feel, and I am certain their pain and agony has been amplified as they relived that horrible day over and over again in the courtroom during these last several months,” Simpson said.
Anti-death penalty bill
Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat who represents part of Broward County, tweeted:
“I cannot imagine the emotions of the Parkland families right now, but I hope & pray that with the closing of this chapter it helps bring them a small measure of peace & closure.”
Farmer filed a bill in the 2022 legislative session to abolish the death penalty in Florida. The bill did not make it through session.
Rep. Chris Latvala, a Republican representing part of Pinellas County, tweeted about his hope that the shooter faces extrajudicial punishment in prison.
“Here’s to hoping that some Prisoners in Florida give the Parkland scumbag their own version of Justice. And may that little POS suffer while they do,” Latvala tweeted Thursday.
During his press conference, DeSantis lamented about how long the trial process took, with the penalty verdict coming down four years after the school shooting occurred. He also referenced various and sometime controversial moves his administration made following the shootings.
“Of course, we’ve taken a lot of action in Broward County — getting rid of the sheriff, doing a special grand jury, getting rid of those school board members, and then doing more on school security than any state in the country, three-quarters of a billion dollars since I became governor. And and we were happy to do that,” DeSantis said.
“But I think this one is, you know, this stings,” he concluded, before moving on to hurricane recovery, the main topic of the Thursday presser.
–Danielle J. Brown, Florida Phoenix
So much for the Republican pro-life stance.
Shameful verdict he should’ve gotten the pain he inflicted. That is all I have to say.
R. S. says
That’s not justice; that’s revenge.
This is a tough one for anyone involved, perhaps those that wanted the death penalty, maybe this is something that state lawmakers should hold a special session for a decision/vote and then one of them should be the one to carry out their decision of the death penalty ? Part of being an elected official perhaps.
Carmen Melendez says
I’m really disappointed about todays sentence for Nikolas Cruz.
I’m not a mother of any student going to that School and I’m outraged.
I can’t even imagined on how these parents felt today, like a slapped on the face.
The Law today really let us down. There was no justice for all of these parents waiting for so long to get justice.
We’re going to need to add new questions for jurors now,
If they don’t believe or can’t give the death penalty for any reason, than they can’t be jurors for any criminal cases.
I hope it’s still time to do something about Cruz, the Judge has the last word, let’s hope November 1st everything will change.
You essentially oppose the jury system then. These were “death penalty qualified” jurors as non-believers of the penalty were not eligible to serve. You want vengeance as do many, perhaps torture or slow dismemberment, which is fine but not a part of the American judicial system. Perhaps Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s methods are more to your liking?
Please, inform us as to your definition of “justice”. Legally, justice was served – the accused was found to be guilty (not hard as he freely admitted the crime), a jury pronounced the sentence and the judge will confirm it. What you want is revenge, nothing less.
Prison justice says
There are likely things worse then a humane quick painless death. I believe he will suffer a fate far worse than Ol’ sparky or the injection table at the hands of some career felons that also understand violence, and will prey upon his slight effeminate build. His posterior will closely resemble the Japanese flag, daily. Someone wished he could be killed 17 times, I’d say where he’s going is going to be a bit worse than that for him.
when he is in prison, I bet he will be held in his cell 23 hours a day. Probably wouldn’t see other prisoners for them to do anything. Yet we will pay for this POS meals ,clothes and medical (however bad it may be) for the rest of his rotten life! I say ,place him up against a wall and let family members each take a shot at him till there is nothing left!
You are so right! We will pay for his meals, medical, clothing and several other items. All to the tune of about half what it would cost to carry out a death sentence. The numbers do not back your belief. As for the rest of your thoughts; admit it, all you want is revenge – and I am sure that will bring back those who died that day.
Why not go after the real issue? Guns and ammunition all too easily fall into the wrong hands.
Heartwarming to see a bunch of hand-wringing, pearl-clutching evangelicals being so hypocritical. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19. Guess that passage was not covered in their bible study classes. Or perhaps they simply see this as an opportunity to sling some more red meat to their blood-thirsty base. DeSantis does not give two hoots about this case; all he sees is another chance to feed the hate and stir up more dissension in a state that is already about to explode. None of these politicians will. in a month, even remember this boys name or the names of any of the victims.
If the state killing Nikolas Cruz would bring even one of his victims back to life I would probably feel different – but it will not. Was his crime wrong? Yes. Was it heinous? Yes. Was allowing him access to the AR and hundreds of rounds of ammunition wrong? Yes. Is killing him revenge? Yes. How will killing this boy improve anyone’s life? It will not.
As Gandhi said; “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”
Michael Cocchiola says
Couldn’t have said it better.
Jim Dana says
He will receive the proper penalty in prison. Inmates do not like child killers, watch & see.
He killed 17 people. It was premeditated. He admits doing it. There are multiple witnesses. His “mental illness” is hardly a mitigating factor. Just because you fail to function in society doesn’t mean you can’t. I don’t believe every murder case merits the death penalty but in this case I don’t see any justification in this verdict.
The only consolation I can see is bad things can happen in prison.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this guy wanted to be put to death; so, now as far I’m concerned, he’s going to suffer a fate probably worse than death. What’s this weasel, like 24? If he lives a long and miserable life, he could spend maybe 50 years locked up in a Florida Penitentiary. To me that’s worse than death. My correctional officer friends tell me there’s no A/C in the summer and they’re lucky if they have heat in the winter. Plus, this chap will be looking over his shoulder for rest of his godforsaken existence. He’s not going to do well.
R. S. says
A penalty is a form of behavior modification. After all, we punish kids to right their ways. The death penalty is a contradiction in terms. It terminates a life; it does not modify behavior. So, let’s rename it the “we give up on you and we’re the bigger bully” revenge. Fact is that states with the death penalty show no appreciable reduction in capital crime than states without the death penalty. So the only right that society has is to protect itself by neutralizing the danger until it is no danger any more. Compare the penalty for Anders Breivik in Norway; and they do have less crime.
Michael Cocchiola says
Bad things DO happen in prison. He’s not long for this world. Karma
Jane Gentile-Youd says
I agree with ‘Jane’ completely
Donald J Trump says
DeSantis has not said shit because Broward County is Republican, figures most of the dead would follow and become future Democratic voters. DeSantis has no shame, no ethics, no compassion and a very low IQ.
Broward County is primarily a democratic county. My source is the “Broward County Supervisor of Elections “, plus I used to live there.
DeSantis did say something. He publicly said if there was a case that deserves the death penalty, that was it.
Ray W. says
Is it possible that a significant number of Flagler Live commenters have forgotten that there was a time when the death penalty did not exist in any jurisdiction across the entire United States?
Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court took the unusual step of abolishing the death penalty. Finding that the death penalty statutes of that time failed to place appropriate limits on prosecutors, the Court wrote that the death penalty had been arbitrarily and capriciously applied for too long. In essence, since prosecutors consistently proved that they could not control themselves, the Court simply took the power to seek the death penalty away from them.
State legislators immediately rewrote their death penalty statutes to include requirements that state prosecutors had to limit their death penalty cases to those that included particularly defined aggravating factors that were to be submitted to jurors. The statutes also had to allow the defense to present mitigating factors to jurors. Jurors were also given the power to accept or reject all aggravating and mitigating factors. Under the newly adopted statutory schemes, if any aggravating factors were accepted by the jurors, then the aggravating factors had to be weighed against any mitigating factors that were accepted by those jurors. Today, if only one juror finds that the aggravating factors fail to outweigh the mitigating factors, then the sentence must be life in prison.
In summation, the power to determine death is given to jurors, not to prosecutors, not to governors, not to legislators, and certainly not to the vengeful among us who could never qualify to be a fair and impartial juror. As an aside, I remember going through 165 prospective jurors to find 15 that met the judge’s determination that each of the 15 met the necessary qualifications to become jurors. I have written about a 25-year-old trial, in which one of the prospective jurors, a young woman, stated that she would consider imposing the death penalty “if an animal or child were injured.” That judge struck her from the panel for “cause.”
If reporting on the case is accurate, it appears that three of the 12 jurors in the Parkland case found that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors. Since when is a juror following the law that he or she swore to follow wrong?
Let’s face it. Anyone who reads the most venomous of the above-listed comments has to concede that there exists a significant number of vengeful people among us. It was never a secret that our founding fathers knew of the vengeful in their midst, too. Perhaps, this explains why they forbade cruel and unusual sentences in the Bill of Rights.
Our founding fathers hoped that the newly adopted Constitution would foster men (and women) of virtue, but they also understood that the vengeful among us would seek to impose their will on society, so they relied on checks and balances to control such impulses. Yes, checks and balances were primarily designed to pit partisans against partisans but checks and balances also were designed to protect society from the vengeful among us. Our founding fathers greatly feared mob rule. Mob violence was actually not that uncommon in their day. Newspaper offices were burned, and their owners attacked, political appointees had their homes ransacked, ordinary citizens were tarred and feathered. This list goes on and on.
One need only read the comments by members of both of our political parties in this article to understand why checks and balances on their desire to abuse powers they do not possess are so important. Neither DeSantis nor Crist will ever be given the power to weigh aggravating factors against mitigating factors because we do not trust members of the executive branch with that power. Only jurors sworn to follow the law are given that power. Given that situation, it is understandable that DeSantis’ and Crist’s comments are nothing more than meaningless political drivel.
I argue that our founding fathers were intelligent, well-educated and experienced; they studiously examined human nature and acted accordingly. The average vengeful FlaglerLive commenter? Not so much. Oy vey!