DeSantis calls for changes to death penalty after verdict in Parkland mass shooting

Florida governor calls decision ‘miscarriage of justice’

Backlash over the Parkland shooting penalty phase verdict is reaching the highest levels of the state.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Backlash over the Parkland shooting penalty phase verdict is reaching the highest levels of the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for changes to Florida’s death penalty law, and the need for reform was front and center Sunday at his campaign stop in Broward County, News 6 partner WPLG-TV reported.

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“That was a miscarriage of justice,” DeSantis said.

He expressed his frustrations during a rally in Coral Springs.

In 2017, the laws in Florida changed, requiring a unanimous jury to recommend the death penalty. DeSantis said he wants to challenge the law, possibly going back to majority rules.

Many thought the 2018 mass murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School would result in a slam-dunk death penalty recommendation verdict.

But in a nine to three split, nine for death, three for life, the death penalty was not an option for Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to murder changes.

It was a decision that enraged many victims’ loved ones.

It was an emotionally tolling, and intense seven hours of deliberations.

Juror Andrew Johnson requested the rifle used in the shooting be brought into the jury room in a final attempt at convincing the three voting for life.

The shooter’s defense team presented their case of a young boy poisoned in the womb by alcohol with developmental delays.

The defense’s case was enough to convince three on the panel to spare the killer’s life.

According to a New York Times article, one juror was firm in her decision because “she could not sentence someone she considered to be mentally ill to death.”

As far as the state’s case is concerned, nothing else can be done, but on This Week In South Florida, former Miami-Dade prosecutor Gail Levine said a federal case could be on the horizon.

“If the families want a do-over, the federal government has the ability to try this case because of a firearm was used interstate commerce,” Levine said.

The shooter has not been sentenced, this was a jury recommendation. The judge does not have the ability to upgrade a life recommendation to death.

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About the Author:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.