A Florida jury rejected the death penalty Thursday for the Parkland school shooter who killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day 2018.
The shooter received life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the murders, causing disappointment and frustration among family members of the victims attending the trial.
“What do we have the death penalty for,” said Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, who gave a moving victim impact statement in August on the murder of his daughter Alyssa, a 14-year-old varsity soccer player. “We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today,” his wife, Lori, said Thursday, reports The New York Times. “I just don’t understand this.”
“I don’t know how this jury came to the conclusions that they did today, but 17 families did not receive justice,” said Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime.
The shooter, who The Daily Wire will not name, was in the penalty phase of his trial, having pleaded guilty to seventeen counts of murder last year. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed, with the youngest victims only 14 years old.
The jury, composed of seven men and five women, had to be unanimous to impose the death penalty. Otherwise, the shooter had to receive a life sentence for his crimes, which prosecutors described during closing arguments as entailing “systematic massacre.”
The shooter’s defense attorneys argued that his mother drank during the pregnancy, causing the shooter to have fetal alcohol syndrome that went undetected throughout his life.
Deliberations began on Wednesday, following the conclusion of a three-month trial. According to the Associated Press, the case was the deadliest of its kind to go to trial.
NBC Miami profiled the victims in February. Their names included: Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old Varsity soccer player; Scott Beigel, a 35-year-old cross-country coach; Martin Duque, a 14-year-old who had dreams of becoming a Navy Seal; Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year-old senior committed to the University of Indianapolis; Aaron Feis, a 37-year-old father and football coach; Peter Wang; a 15-year-old who helped his classmates escape the massacre and was posthumously admitted to West Point; Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old National Merit Scholar and president of an acapella group; Alex Schachter, a 14-year-old athlete and marching band member; Helena Ramsay; a 17-year-old who wanted to travel the world; Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old senior committed to Lynn University; Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old ROTC cadet of the month; Joaquin Oliver, a 17-year-old Miami Heat fan; Gina Montalto, a 14-year-old Girl Scout and avid reader; Cara Loughran, a 14-year-old who taught education classes at her church; Jaime Guttenberg, a 14-year-old who loved helping children; Chris Hixon, a 49-year-old Navy Veteran and athletics director; Luke Hoyer, a 15-year-old basketball lover and scholarship winner.
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