US jury spares Parkland gunman from execution

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A US jury has recommended the gunman responsible for killing 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018, should not face the death penalty.

Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to the killings last year, the three-month trial had to decide whether he should be executed or face life in jail, without the possibility of parole.

Cruz killed 17 people in 2018, including 14 students and three teachers and injured another 17 people.

The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was the deadliest high school shooting in US history and the deadliest to come to trial.

The prosecution said it was a premeditated attack, detailing how he meticulously planned the killings and then stalked the corridors of the school, “hunting his victims”.

The defense argued he should be jailed rather than executed as he suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It is said that Cruz’s mother drank, smoked and took drugs while she was pregnant with him.

His lawyers said that led to Cruz experiencing developmental and behavioural problems. But some of the families reacted angrily to the verdict.

One parent said outside court said they were “disgusted” by the decision.

Under Florida law a judge does not have the power to overrule the jury’s decision in a death penalty case.

In June this year, Florida residents and students gathered in Parkland demanding that the American government enact gun legislation to protect innocent Americans.