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Parkland shooting sentencing live: Gunman Nikolas Cruz faces death penalty as trial begins

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(FILE) Footage released showing officer standing outside Parkland school as shooting took place

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018, will face sentencing for his crimes beginning on Monday 18 July.

Cruz, a former student at the school, was just 19 when he went on a shooting spree in what proved to be one of the deadliest school massacres in US history.

He subsequently surrendered to police and pleded guilty to 17 charges of first-degree murder and 17 of attempted murder.

Cruz, was a member of the school’s air rifle team who had been expelled over his disciplinary record.

He had arrived at the school with a legally purchases AR-16 semi-automatic rifle and gunned down 14 students and three staff members.

The shooting had sparked a nationwide protest movement demanding tighter gun control measures.

While prosecutors are seeking death penalty for Cruz, his attorneys are hoping for a life term.

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ICYMI: ‘We have to do more,’ Parkland father interrupts Biden event celebrating bipartisan gun legislation

Last week president Joe Biden was interrupted by Parkland father Manuel Oliver during a White House event celebrating the passage of a bipartisan gun safety bill.

Mr Oliver lost his son Joaquin during the 2018 Florida shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School.

“Despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence,” Mr Biden said during his speech last Monday.

“We have to do more than that!” Mr Oliver shouted as Mr Biden spoke about the new measures.

Read Gustaf Kilander’s report:

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Deadliest US school shootings

According to US president Joe Biden more than 900 incidents involving gunfire on school grounds have taken place in the last 10 years.

Zoe Tidman takes look at some of the worst to shake the nation over the past decades:

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ICYMI: Biden misstates the date of the Parkland mass shooting

Last week, president Joe Biden misstated the date of the Parkland, Florida, attack that killed 17 people and injured 17 back in 2018.

The shooting was at the time considered the deadliest mass shooting to take place at a US high school.

“Fort Hood, Texas, 2009, 13 dead, 30 more injured. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 1918, 17 dead, 17 injured,” the president said, getting the dates and figures correct for the first mass shooting he cited, but mistaking the date of the 14 February Parkland attack as occurring 100 years before it happened.

Johanna Chisholm reports:

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What to expect from gunman Cruz’s penalty trial that’s starting today

Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who shot dead 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 will face his sentencing trial today.

The seven-man, five-woman jury, backed up by 10 alternates, will hear opening statements and then the first evidence about the massacre.Lead prosecutor Mike Satz is expected to highlight how Cruz who was then only 19, stalked a three story classroom building firing his AR-15 rifle down hallways and classrooms.

It is not yet clear whether the defense lawyers will deliver their opening statements at the start of the trial or when they begin presenting their case weeks from now.

When the jury eventually gets the case this fall, it will vote 17 times on the question of whether to recommend the death penalty: once for each of the victims.In order for Cruz to get the death penalty, jurors must vote unanimously in its favour.

Even one vote against it would mean that Cruz’s sentence will be reduced to a lifer in prison.

Read this report from the Associated Press:

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‘My daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting’, writes victim Jamie Guttenberg’s father

“My daughter Jaime was a beautiful young girl, only 14 years old when she was murdered. She was a competitive dancer who inspired others to want to dance as well. What I am most proud of is her humanity. She volunteered for kids with special needs. She always stepped in the middle when she came across bullying. Jaime dreamt of being a pediatric physical therapist and helping children with limb deficiencies walk for the very first time. She loved her family, and she loved her dogs. She always told us how she would be married by the time she was 25 and planned to have two children — of course with two dogs as well.”

Fred Guttenberg, Jamie’s father, wrote in October 2021 on how he wants his daughter to be remembered:

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‘Cautiously optimistic’ says Parkland victim’s wife as sentencing begins

Debbi Hixon, whose husband Chris was murdered along with 16 other people in the mass shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has said that she hopes gunman Nicolas Cruz’s sentencing trial will help her family grieve.

“I try to explain to people when they say ‘how are you doing on the grieving process?’ that I don’t think – until we get to the other side of the trial – any of us have even got to the true start of the grieving process,” she tells The Independent‘s Rachel Sharp.

“We live it every day. It’s a movie that runs in my head all the time.“I don’t even know if we will have closure at the end of it but it’s just been constant anticipation as we knew that we would have to see him in court and see him on TV.

“So I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s starting – I’m not glad but we can’t get to the end until it starts.”

FILE – People attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Parkland shooting victims remembered

On 14 February 2018, 17 people were gunned down by then 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

More than four years later, Cruz is finally about to appear in court for his sentencing hearing where a jury will decide if he should face life in prison or death for the heinous killings.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp reports on the 17 victims:

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Timeline of Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018, will face sentencing trial for his crimes starting today.

Cruz was just 19 when he arrived that day in an Uber bearing a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and gunned down 14 students and three members of staff in what proved to be one of the deadliest school massacres in American history.

My colleaugue Joe Sommerlad brings a timeline of the case:

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Welcome to The Independent’s live blog on the Parkland shooting sentencing trial

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