After pleading guilty to 17 counts of murder, the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz begged his victims’ parents to spare his life.
Crying at the court lectern, the bespectacled 23-year-old said he was “trying to maintain my composure” as he uttered, “I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day, And if I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try and help others. And I am doing this for you.”
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Cruz’s rampage at the Parkland, Florida school motivated queer students Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzales to become leading voices in the student-led movement for stronger firearm laws.
“I do not care if you do not believe me. And I love you,” he continued. “But I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes.”
He added, “I hate drugs and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets.”
He said he believed that the decision of whether to give him life in prison or the death penalty rests with his victims’ parents, and not the jury.
The gunman behind the deadliest high school shooting in history also pleaded guilty to 17 counts of attempted murder.
Four victims’ parents who heard his apology told CBS Miami that they want him dead.
Counselors and legal officials had tagged Cruz as mentally unstable and a potential school shooter capable of great violence for years before he committed his heinous mass shooting.
An apology will never absolve him of his crimes. Drugs were not to blame for his own decision to kill other people.
“We’re glad today has gone this way and we are hoping for accountability with the death penalty,” Gena Hoyer, mother of 15-year-old victim Luke Hoyer, said. She added that Cruz’s apology was “useless.”
Cruz “does not deserve life in prison. Life in prison is a life. He deserves nothing more than the death penalty,” she said.