No end in sight for Parkland School massacre survivors


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla .– The Parkland gunman’s guilty plea this week quickly ended the most predictable part of the legal drama surrounding the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, but it left many more cases unfinished.

There are still legal arguments and hearings and a trial to determine whether Nikolas Cruz lives or dies. There are unresolved social and political arguments about how to prevent something like the Parkland Massacre from happening again.

And there’s still the site of terror, the building the gunman entered on Valentine’s Day 2018, pledged to kill. The corridors he walked through. Stained floors. Broken windows. The vacant, sealed and silent reminder of South Florida’s darkest day.

For some, it is impossible to expect a closure while Stoneman Douglas Building 1200 is standing.

“In a perverse way, it has become the only monument we have on the school grounds, where all these selfless children, teachers and coaches have passed away,” said Eric Edwards, whose three children attended. school, one of which is now a second year. “So it is also sacred ground, although I still regard it with revulsion and look forward to it falling and being replaced with a proper tribute to those we have lost and all that has been lost on that day. -the.”

Freshmen who attended Stoneman Douglas on filming day graduated in June. For the current student body, the mass shooting is not something they have experienced.

“It’s like 2018,” said Logan Rubenstein, who became a student of Stoneman Douglas six months after the shooting. “It’s kind of a time capsule that always reminds us of what happened.”

But there are still teachers who yearn to see the edifice removed.

“It has to go,” said Melissa Falkowski, an English teacher who heads the school’s faculty council. “The building is a harsh physical representation of what happened.” She said it’s a common sentiment among most teachers.

“To be honest, I just don’t watch,” said Eric Garner, television production professor at Stoneman Douglas. “It’s still an active crime scene.”

And that’s why he still stands.

Prosecutors initially intended to have trial jurors walk through the building, following in the marksman’s footsteps to establish that his actions were premeditated and merited a conviction for first degree murder. Now that Cruz’s guilt is officially established, prosecutors are still planning the procedure. Only now the only goal is to show that the execution of the shooter is a fair punishment.

“It is very moving to see the building and to know this is where my daughter was killed,” said Lori Alhadeff, a school board member, whose daughter, Alyssa, was one of the killed victims. “But I am very aware that a jury must pass through the building to achieve the ultimate goal of the death penalty. They need to be able to see things, feel things, and get a full picture of what happened on February 14th.

After the sentencing trial is over, she said, she wants the building to collapse.

“I want the school district to be ready to go and not go through a lengthy process,” Alhadeff said. “I want them to be ready, with all their ducks in a row once they get the green light to speed this up as quickly as possible.”

It all depends on how long it takes for the judicial process to reach its next milestone, whether it is a life sentence or a death sentence.

Lawyers are due in court on Tuesday to walk through the mountain of motions that have been filed in the case and determine which ones are no longer needed now that the guilt is no longer in issue. Many of the arguments made by prosecutors and defense lawyers are as relevant today as they ever were, including the language that can be used in court to identify the accused and the extent to which defense can rely on education, mental health and failing justice systems as mitigating factors.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer has set Jan.4 as the first day of jury selection, expecting to meet between 100 and 200 potential jurors per day just to weed out those who know too much about the case or who cannot be fair. A second phase of selection will determine who will be responsible for making the decision.

Once the jury is chosen, prosecutors will present their case for the death penalty, followed by the defense, which will likely focus on the guilty plea and the mental health of the accused.

The victims and their family members are not unanimous in their desire to see the shooter executed. “It’s not my right. I am not God, ”said survivor Anthony Borges. “My decision is to change the world. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. It hurts. It really hurts.”

If a juror agrees, Cruz will live. Under Florida law, the judge can only order death if the jury’s recommendation is unanimous. But even if the jury recommends death, a judge can impose a life sentence instead.

Although the timelines are difficult to predict, it will almost certainly take several months between the selection of the jury and the decision of the judge. The school district roughly estimates the demolition of Building 1200 at some point in 2022. A memorial is already under development nearby and will likely be expanded once the building is razed, Alhadeff said. It will include photos and comments from loved ones on the 17 who died.

Until then, the families of the victims are preparing for anything but the one thing no one can promise: closure.

“I don’t think there is any closure to this,” said Tom Hoyer, father of victim Luke Hoyer. “It’s not something you never get over. You just learn to live with it.

The only appropriate conclusion, he said, would be for the shooter to be deprived of the notoriety he once sought.

“We want his death. We want it to be forgotten.

About Betty Nelson

Check Also

Broward Deputy Describes Jail Brawl With Confessed Parkland Shooter | National

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Months after being jailed for the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.