Failure to treat serious mental illness is a factor in mass murder

Dottie Bacharis

On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz brutally murdered 14 students and three staff members and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz planned to shoot for seven months before he stalked the three-story classroom building for seven minutes, firing 140 rounds with a semi-automatic rifle down hallways and into classrooms.

Cruz pleaded guilty. This petition set the stage for a three-month sentence trial that ended on October 13, 2022, in which the jury voted 9-3 for the death sentence. Jurors said those voting for life believe Cruz is mentally ill and should be avoided. Under Florida law, a death sentence requires unanimity.

Cruz’s sentence is for life without parole. Angry family members of the 17 victims spent two days berating Cruz as a villain, a coward, a monster, and a less than human deserving of a painful death.

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