If Parkland Shooting Doesn’t Warrant Death Penalty What Does?


Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, waits to hear the verdict from the jury.

Ale Lossing

The non-unanimous jury brought the verdict of life in prison without parole on 17 different acts of murder, for Nikolas Cruz, Parkland shooter who caused the tragedy on February 14th, 2018. The many disappointed victim’s families of the verdict bring up the question, “How bad of crime do you need to commit to receive the death penalty?” 

   Although many of the jurors found overwhelming evidence towards using the extreme, three jurors spared Cruz’s life and one strongly believed he was severely mentally ill according to jury foreman, Benjamin Thomas. The lead defense attorney, Melisa McNeil, and her team argued that Cruz may have suffered brain damage due to his mother’s substance abuse during her pregnancy. They also argued that he suffered trauma from allegedly being sexually assaulted as a child and personally witnessing his step-fathers death resulted in aggressive behavior at a young age and illustrated extreme mental illness. Even with the circumstances, this shouldn’t be important in the trial or an excuse of the horrendous decisions he decided to make when he entered Stoneman Douglas with an assault rifle.

   Many of the victim’s families felt a shock and intense anger towards the verdict. Due to Nicolas Cruz horrifying actions, Debra Hixon’s husband, Christopher Hixon, died at the age of 49 in the freshman building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “What it says to me, what it says to my family, what it says to the other families, is that his life meant more than the 17 that were murdered,” said Hixon. 

    The controversy of capital punishment met with the reality of grief in this trial. While many believe that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, the victim’s families turned their anger towards the man who murdered their loved ones and they felt that justice meant the death penalty. The victim’s families deserve justice by Cruz receiving “cruel and unusual” punishment for his horrific actions. The pre-meditation in this situation conveys his detachment for human life. 

   We have the death penalty for disgusting situations like this. People have compared Cruz saying he is “the worst of worst” and even said he’s “worse than Ted Bundy”. If we don’t use capital punishment for pre-mediated mass murders like the Parkland shooting, what do we use it for?