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‘My life will never be the same again.’  Court hears first victim statements in Parkland shooter’s death penalty trial


It’s been 1,630 days since Linda Beigel Schulman spoke to her son Scott Beigel, a geography teacher who was killed in the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, while pulling students to safety in his classroom.

“I will never get over this. I will never get over this,” she said Monday, testifying at the shooter’s death penalty trial in a Broward County courtroom. will never be the same again.”

Beigel Schulman was among the first relatives of the victims to speak at the death sentence trial of gunman Nikolas Cruz on Monday, along with relatives of Joaquin Oliver and Alaina Petty, students who, along with Beigel, were among the 17 people shot . on Valentine’s Day 2018 during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“It’s been four years and four months since he was taken from us, his friends and his family,” Patricia Oliver said of her son, who was 17 when he was killed. “We miss him more than words can say and we love him very much,” she said, adding, “Our lives have been shattered and changed forever.”

Jurors are expected to hear testimony from other relatives of the victims on Tuesday as they take to the stage to help illustrate the toll of the killings.

Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, and this phase of his criminal trial aims to determine his sentence: prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, while Cruz’s defense attorneys ask the jury for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

To recommend a death sentence, jurors must be unanimous. If they do, the judge could choose to follow the recommendation or sentence Cruz to life instead.

To make their decision, jurors will hear prosecutors and defense attorneys argue aggravating factors and mitigating circumstances — reasons why Cruz should or should not be executed. Victim impact statements add another layer, giving victims’ families and friends their own day in court.

“We don’t have a system where the families of the victims decide whether you live or die if you kill their family members,” said Teresa Reid, a law professor at the University’s Levin College of Law. from Florida. . “We don’t have revenge. And so that’s the mechanism that the family has.

‘My life will never be the same again.’  Court hears first victim statements in Parkland shooter’s death penalty trial

Cruz had no visible reaction Monday to any of the victim impact statements, although one of his defense attorneys was seen wiping away a tear, as were at least two members of the jury.

Joaquin’s sister, Andrea Ghersi, said her 6ft 1in little brother was “energetic, dynamic, loud, confident, strong, empathetic, understanding, intelligent, passionate, outgoing, playful, loving, competitive, rebellious, funny , loyal and consistently spoke up when he felt something was not right.

Victoria Gonzalez also spoke on Tuesday. On the day of filming, she became Joaquin’s girlfriend, Gonzalez told the court, but they already referred to each other as “always soul mates” and she described it as “magic personified, love personified.” Her name, she says, is “carved deep into my soul”.

Kelly Petty, Alaina’s mother, described the deceased 14-year-old as a “very loving person”.

“She loved her friends, she loved her family, and most importantly, she loved God,” Kelly Petty said of her daughter. “I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t see her grow into the amazing young woman she was becoming.”

Alain’s sister, Meghan, echoed that sentiment, telling the court: ‘I would have loved to see her grow up. She would have been a blessing to the world.


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