What does the Parkland verdict mean for the death penalty?

What does the Parkland verdict mean for the death penalty?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I used to be a strong proponent of the death penalty. I believe the phrase I used to use was, ‘throw them feet first into a rusty wood chipper’. Anytime a state would put a moratorium on the death penalty, I would remind people who was still on death row in that state. For example, when New Jersey abolished the death penalty back in 2007, I reminded people that a monster like Jesse Timmendequas was still on death row. He was the man who brutally killed 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. Megan’s murder is what inspired Megan’s Law.

As I’ve said in previous stories, my stance on the death penalty has softened somewhat since then. However, in my opinion, there are still crimes deserving of the death penalty. One of those crimes is the mass murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

As you probably know, that was not meant to be as earlier this month, jurors could not come to a unanimous decision in sentencing Nikolas Cruz to death. I get it, sort of. It’s most likely one of the heaviest burdens that could possibly weigh on someone’s mind. You and 11 other people are holding the fragile thread of someone’s life in your hand, and you all need to come together to choose to cut it.

Could I have done it? It’s easy to say yes without actually experiencing the trial itself. Then again, we’re talking about a then 19-year-old who slaughtered 17 innocents just for the notoriety it would bring.

Anyway, Cruz’s defense successfully argued that since Cruz’s biological mother abused alcohol while she was pregnant with Cruz, he must have had some kind of mental defect that resulted in the worst high school shooting in American history. It only had to take one juror to feel sympathy for Cruz to spare him the death penalty. According to some reports, three jurors voted against the death penalty. While Cruz’s defense may have been successful, that doesn’t make them right.

Typically, in other school shooting trials when mental defect is argued, the defense is essentially saying that their client did not know the difference between right and wrong. Cruz knew exactly what he was doing and clearly knew what he was doing was wrong. But don’t take my word for it when we can hear Cruz in his own words. The following audio files come from the videos that Cruz recorded on his cell phone in preparation for the shooting.

As an aside, in the previous clip, Cruz sounds just as dumb as that scene from Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back where Jay is giving the “You are the ones” speech. But, I digress.

You can read more of my commentary on these clips here.

But doesn’t that sound like someone who meticulously planned an attack?

Even before Cruz brutally murdered 17 people, let’s not gloss over the type of person he was. He was known to sexually harass a girl who tried to befriend him, even after she was bullied by Cruz. Cruz was also known to have a hatred of black people, since an alleged girlfriend left him for a black person. Others have said that Cruz was anti-Semitic and would often give Nazi salutes. He is also accused of punching his adoptive mother in the face so hard that he caused over $2000 in dental damages because she wouldn’t take him to Walmart. Cruz was also known to be constantly angry about not having a girlfriend, which leads me to believe he had incel tendencies as well.

Also, not surprisingly, Cruz studied the Columbine shooting along with the 2007 Jokela High School shooting in Finland that left 8 dead.

But getting back to mental illness, it seems like Cruz already had some kind of insanity plea in mind in his planning. At the time of his arrest, not only did Cruz claim he heard voices, but he also tried to play off the shooting like he had dissociative identity disorder where he conveniently regained his faculties right after his arrest. Psychological experts for the prosecution even testified that Cruz was faking that he had brain damage.

Now, since the jury recommended the sentence of life without parole, a judge still has to issue the official sentence which is scheduled for November 1st. However, the judge’s hands are tied because under Florida law, the judge is required to follow the jury’s recommendation.

Some people also like to argue that housing a death row inmate is more expensive than one who’s been sentenced to life because of the various appeals most death row inmates file. While that may be true, does it really lessen the impact of taxpayers by any noticeable amount? And is the cost really any different, since Cruz will probably file all sorts of appeals while in prison? It’s not hard to imagine Cruz filing appeals claiming he wasn’t aware of what his guilty pleas entailed. He wouldn’t be the first school shooter who tried it. I know of at least one who successfully appealed their guilty plea that way and received time served, and let’s just say they haven’t exactly been a model citizen since their release.

As far as the death penalty itself is concerned, I think we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the death penalty, not just in Florida, but the remaining death penalty states as well. In the future, if a prosecutor in a death penalty state tries to pursue the death penalty against a defendant, that defendant will now be held up to the Nikolas Cruz standard. The argument from now on is going to be if someone who killed 17 people didn’t get the death penalty, why should my client? The threshold for the death penalty is now so high it will rarely be worth pursuing.

However, all this talk about the death penalty, appeals, and mental illness would all be moot if we had common-sense gun control legislation in this country. No 18-year-old, let alone any civilian adult, needs a military style rifle that can legally hold thirty rounds that’s designed for maximum wound impact.

Not only are guns for cowards, but the AR-15 shows just how much of a coward you are.


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