On Thursday, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis reacted to the sentence handed to the Parkland shooter who murdered 17 people, including 14 high school students, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018.
The jury deliberated less than two days before deciding the shooter should receive a life sentence without parole, instead of the death penalty, for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“I think that if you have a death penalty at all, that that is a case where you’re massacring those students with premeditation and other disregard for basic humanity, that you deserve the death penalty,” DeSantis stated.
“And so the jurors came back; apparently it was eleven to one, with one holdout refusing to authorize the ultimate punishment, and that means that this killer’s going to end up getting the same sentence as people who committed bad acts but acts that did not rise to this level,” he continued. “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. I’m also disappointed that we’re four and a half years after these killings and we’re just now getting this.”
“You know, they used to do this: He would have been executed in six months,” DeSantis declared. “He’s guilty. Everybody knew that from the beginning, and yet it takes years and years in this legal system that is not serving the interest of victims.”
The only appropriate sentence for the massacre of 17 innocent people is the death penalty. That the jury had a single holdout refuse to authorize a capital sentence represents a miscarriage of justice.
My prayers are with the Parkland families. pic.twitter.com/f2M0Fw1SLo
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 13, 2022
Many in the courtroom were disturbed or frustrated by the sentence the shooter received.
Some parents of the murdered students reacted verbally to the sentence: Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina was murdered by the shooter, said, “The monster that killed them gets to live another day. … Society has to really look and re-examine who and what is a victim.”
Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter was another victim, said he was “disgusted” not only with the jury but also the legal system, asking rhetorically, “What do we have the death penalty for?”
At the beginning of August, Alhadeff gave a heartbreaking speech about his daughter at the sentencing trial of the shooter.
“She was supposed to get married,” he said, breaking down in tears. “I was going to have my father-daughter dance. She would have had a beautiful family, four kids, live in a gorgeous house, a beach house on the side. All those plans came to an end with Alyssa’s murder.”
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.
Related: ‘Alyssa Will Always Be 14’: Father Of Parkland Victim Gives Unforgettably Heartbreaking Speech At Trial Of Shooter