Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he was “very disappointed” after a jury rejected the death penalty and recommended that Nikolas Cruz serve life in prison for murdering 17 people in 2018 at a Parkland High School.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“That is a case where you’re massacring those students with premeditation and utter disregard for basic humanity … you deserve the death penalty,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Cape Coral.
The mass shooting spurred lawmakers in 2018 to pass gun and school-safety measures, which were signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott.
DeSantis, who was elected governor later that year, pushed in 2019 to remove then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office over the handling of the shooting. The state Senate ultimately approved Israel’s ouster.
DeSantis on Thursday also decried the lengthy legal process after the school massacre. “You know, they used to do this, he would have been executed in six months. 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,” DeSantis, a Harvard-educated lawyer, said.
Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer did not immediately sentence Cruz. Under state law, juries have to unanimously recommend death for the sentence to be imposed on defendants.