Parkland trial jurors answer questions following decision not to execute confessed gunman

The confessed gunman from the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people and injured 17 others will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The decision comes after the jury in the trial’s sentencing phase announced they couldn’t come to a unanimous decision that Nikolas Cruz should be executed.

Some of those jurors are coming forward to explain their decision.

Juror number three is a probation officer and once worked as a paralegal executive assistant.

He told Local 10 News’ Liane Morejon he was once in the military.

“I voted for the death penalty,” he said. “We did go back there and try to hash things out. There was one juror that was just very set in what she believed and that was the life (verdict).”

He also said he was the one who requested to have the shooter’s rifle brought to the jury room.

“I was in the military. I’m very well versed in the M4 rifle, so I wanted to help elaborate the features that the defendant put on the weapon,” he explained, and then was asked what those things indicated to him. “It told me that you have to sit down and while you’re implementing those onto the weapon, you have to be thinking about something, whether that is bad or good. So I wanted to show the jury that it is not extremely difficult to put those on, but it is something you need a mental capacity to put those on.”

Juror number eight is a gun owner who works in human resources and once worked as an x-ray technician.

“Anxious, nervous,” she said. “Very happy that it’s over.”

The jury foreman was juror number one, Benjamin Thomas, a gun owner who works in IT. His brother works in law enforcement, and his mother is a mental health counselor.

“I didn’t vote that way, so I’m not happy with how it worked out, but everybody has the right to decide for themselves,” he said. “We waited overnight for people to sleep on it, but if a juror had a hard feeling that they were only going to vote one way, there’s nothing else you can do.”

Thomas also described being in the courtroom and seeing the shock and anguish on the families’ faces as the verdict was being read.

“I don’t know if you could see my face, but it hurt,” he said. “I feel bad for them. It hurts.”

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