Is the Parkland school shooting saga about to come to an end?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard the name Parkland. It’s become synonymous with one of the country’s worst school shootings, along with Columbine and Sandy Hook. Parkland is the name of the city in Florida where the shooting took place. The school where the shooting took place is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, or Stoneman-Douglas for short.

We’ve all heard what happened there. On Valentine’s Day 2018, then 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, armed with a legally purchased AR-15, entered his former school and opened fire. Before it was all over, 17 people lay dead.

In the months and years since the shooting, a new gun control movement gained momentum, largely started by former students of the school who survived the deadly day. Most notable among them, are David Hogg and X Gonzalez. Sadly, in the almost four years since Parkland, little has changed when it comes to gun legislation and school shootings are happening more frequently.

Personally, the Parkland shooting was a last straw for me. I was already disassociating myself from the Republican Party I had been registered with since I was 18 because of the toxic political climate of the time. This climate was fostered by a certain tangerine-tinged sex pest of President. After Parkland, I could not in good conscience call myself a Republican anymore. Not only that, but I could no longer support the 2nd Amendment. Not only did I lose readers over this stance, but I lost friends as well. This was the hill I was going to die on, so to speak.

It got to the point that I couldn’t post about Parkland anymore because it became detrimental to my mental health. This is the first I’ve posted about Parkland in 2 1/2 years. I could no longer bear the details of heartbreak and loss caused by a selfish maniac who should have never had access to a firearm in the first place.

Even earlier this year, when proceedings started to come to a close, I couldn’t write about it. There were so many stories of other shootings at the time that I felt so overwhelmed, and figured I would get to it in due time. Now, here we are at the end of the year and I can’t avoid it anymore.

Back in October, a now 23-year-old Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. After entering his pleas, Cruz gave a rambling apology to the victims’ families, saying that he now wants to help others and hates drugs and racism. Many of the victims’ families who were interviewed by the press did not feel that Cruz’s apology was in any way sincere. Some saw it just as a ploy for Cruz to keep himself off death row. Some even said that even the death penalty was not enough. Each murder charge carries a sentence of life without parole, while the attempted murder charges have 20-year minimums.

Previously, Cruz’s defense were willing to have Cruz plead guilty if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table. However, prosecutors were adamant in seeking the death penalty.

While in jail awaiting trial, Cruz assaulted a guard in late 2018 after the guard instructed him to stop dragging his shoes while he walked. Cruz has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for that assault.

During the sentencing phase, jurors will need to reach a unanimous decision to send Cruz to death row. Only one juror needs to dissent for Cruz to escape death row.

The penalty phase had been scheduled for January 4th; however, the penalty trial has been rescheduled for February 24th. Both the prosecution and the defense requested more time to prepare.

If I had to place a bet on whether or not Cruz will receive the death penalty, I would say it’s a coin toss at this point. On one hand, it’s Florida, a very death row-friendly state, and Floridians have not forgotten what Cruz has done. On the other hand, it only takes one juror to find one iota of sympathy for Cruz to save him from execution. While my stance on the death penalty has softened over the years, I think that this is a case that’s tailor-made for it. Either way, this will be a landmark case as to my recollection, Cruz is the first school shooter to ever face the death penalty.


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