Gov. DeSantis calls on changes to death penalty law after Parkland shooter sentencing hearing

ORLANDO, Fla. — During a campaign rally on Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the state legislature to change Florida’s death penalty law.


It comes after a Florida jury recommended life imprisonment for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz last week.

The governor said he will push to change the law that allowed that to happen.

DeSantis said Cruz should have been sentenced to death and he is confident that the change will come.

Read: Parkland high school shooting: Jurors recommend life sentence for Nikolas Cruz

Florida law states that the jury must unanimously agree on the death penalty, or it is an automatic life sentence.

Parents of Parkland victims are asking the state to change its death penalty law.

“You see, my daughter was in my ear every night, and she said daddy, you find out what happened and you hold those people accountable,” said Andrew Pollack, the father of a Stoneman Douglas victim.

Read: ‘I couldn’t find anyone to kill’: Parkland school shooter says at penalty trial

DeSantis backs the parents’ demands.

“I’m sorry, when you murder 17 people in cold blood, the only appropriate punishment is capital punishment,” he said.

Florida’s death penalty law changed in 2017, which could have led to a different fate for Cruz.

Until 2016, a simple majority vote of 7 to 5 was enough to sentence someone to death. But now, a vote of anything less than 12 to 0 means life in prison without parole.

DeSantis said he is going to work with the legislature to reform some of the laws.

“That was a miscarriage of justice that did not honor the victims and the families, and all that they went through,” he said.

Read: Gov. DeSantis surveys Flagler County damage from Ian following campaign stop in The Villages

One juror said that while he was not happy with the outcome, he respects people’s right to choose.

“Everybody has the right to decide for themselves, it is a moral decision on their own and some of the jurors felt that way,” he said.

Cruz’s attorney, Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes, echoed that point and reminded people that the verdict is final.

“This is the system that we all cherish, that we all abide by and supported by our constitution,” he said.

A judge is expected to formally sentence Cruz on Nov. 1. But under Florida law, the judge cannot depart from the jury’s recommendation of life in prison.

Victims and family members are expected to speak before the sentence is delivered.

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