Parkland Shooter in Court

Students gather in a vigil for those killed and injured in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Fabrice Florin from Mill Valley, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Students gather in a vigil for those killed and injured in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

On October 20, Nicholas Cruz, the student who opened fire at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida pled guilty to the murder of 17 of his classmates. He was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. After he entered his plea, he addressed the judge; saying that despite the law in Florida, the families of the victims should decide if he gets the death penalty.

Cruz apologized to the court, “I just want you to know that I’m really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. While addressing the court, he said, “I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go – whether I live or die. Not the jury’s. I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.”

Nicholas Cruz’s fate will be decided during a penalty trial, where a jury will decide whether he will get life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The trial will have 12 jurors. His attorney has said he intends to plead guilty in a penalty trial. He has been encouraged to plead guilty by his attorney so that he may get life in prison.

The Parkland shooting has caused many people to call for an end to gun violence. Many students have walked out of class and protested in an effort to convince the government to ban AR-15s or guns in general. Some argue that the background check system doesn’t work because Cruz was  expelled from school a year earlier for violent behavior. His crimes have also caused discourse in the death penalty debate, with some saying he shouldn’t get the death penalty because they do not believe in the penalty to begin with.