Will The Parkland Shooter Get The Death Penalty?

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Americans have been executed for less–but will he?

Florida is not averse to capital punishment, having executed 50 inmates since 2000. Most recently, the state executed Patrick Charles Hannon in Nov. 2008 for the murders of two men. It also plans to execute Eric Scott Branch, a rapist and murderer, on Thursday. One possibility stands in the way of Cruz receiving a death sentence, however, and that’s the possibility of a plea bargain. Hoping to avoid the fate of his victims, the 19-year-old has already expressed interest in pleading guilty so long as prosecutors promise not to seek capital punishment.

Prosecutors may have no need of a guilty plea, however, as the evidence against Cruz is overwhelming and he’s already provided a confession to police. Capital punishment are often expensive ordeals drawn out over years or even decades by the appeals process.

RELATED: JROTC Students Save Lives At Florida Shooting

Cruz may also make an insanity plea, as he reportedly claimed he heard “demon” voices telling him to commit the shooting. In 2013, however, Florida executed another mass murderer despite complaints from defense attorneys that he was mentally ill.

Mass shooters in other states have successfully avoided the death penalty, however. James Holmes, who opened fire on the audience at a Colorado movie theater in 2012, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Colorado is incredibly averse to capital punishment, however, having executed a single inmate since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.

The details of Cruz’s shooting were shocking. He took an Uber to his former high school around 2:21 p.m. He pulled the fire alarm and roamed the halls, shooting people on multiple floors. He then dropped his rifle and backpack on the third floor, reportedly disguising himself as one of the students frantically running around. He went to a Subway sandwich shop after, bought himself a drink, and sat at a McDonald’s.

Investigators identified Cruz through video footage. Forty minutes later, a police officer apprehended him walking on the side of the road.

His social media presence shows that he loved guns and was reportedly “involved in a YouTube chat room conversation about bombs or building bombs.” (RELATED: Here’s Everything We Know About The Florida High School Shooting Suspect)

President Trump tweeted over the weekend:

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

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