NewsParkland school Shooting doubt Pleads Guilty come Murdering 17 in Florida Attack, Moving case Closer to fatality Penalty Decision

By Mark Keierleber | October 15, 2021


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Victims of the Parkland college shooting (Giffords ship / Twitter)

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Updated, Oct. 20

The accused perpetrator of the 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, pleaded guilty to every counts top top Wednesday. The advancement unfolded in a Broward ar courtroom, whereby the suspect was charged v 17 counts of murder and also 17 counts of check murder. Fourteen students and also three faculty members were killed in the Valentine’s work massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

During the hearing, which to be attended by the families of those killed in the school, the suspect responded “guilty” 34 times as the judge read each charge along with the victims’ names. Judge Elizabeth Scherer inquiry the suspect if he taken that he deals with “a minimum, together a finest case scenario, the life in prison,” a reality the male acknowledged.

In a statement come the victims’ families, the suspect removed his challenge mask and also offered one apology.


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“I am really sorry because that what i did and I need to live v it every day, and also if ns were to obtain a 2nd chance I would certainly do everything in my power to try to assist others,” that said. “I have to live through this every day and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live v myself sometimes however I try to press through since I recognize that is what you guys would desire me come do.”

While he went onto to say he believed it was the victims’ families who need to decide “where ns go, and whether i live or die,” the referee reminded him that would be left come a jury. Jury an option in the penalty phase of the trial is collection to begin Jan. 4.

The guy accused of carrying out the 2018 mass college shooting in Parkland, Florida, will certainly plead guilty to killing 17 people, happen the yearslong situation a action closer come its resolution, one that can end through a jury sentencing him to death.

The development, announced during a Friday morning court hearing, comes much more than three and also a fifty percent years after the Valentine’s work shooting unravelled at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school that led to a substantial uprising among young human being over total control and also a nationwide debate around school security measures. The 23-year-old man, a former student in ~ Marjory Stoneman Douglas, plans come plead guilty come 17 counts that premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder during a court listening Wednesday.

The suspect, who made a court figure in plainclothes Friday, pleaded guilty come attempted aggravated battery in a separate incident after he was accused that assaulting a police officer if being held inside a fort Lauderdale jail nine months after ~ the shooting.

The tragedy, among the most dangerous school shootings in U.S. History, led to the deaths of 14 students and also three faculty members. On Oct. 19, it was announced that the households of the 17 victims and almost three dozen others who were wounded or traumatized had actually reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County institution district. Ar officials had actually come under extreme scrutiny because that their handling of school security and disciplinary problems involving the accused gunman.


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His guilty plea in the criminal instance comes without an covenant with prosecutors and also a jury will eventually decide his fate. Prosecutors controversy the suspect need to receive the death penalty when his defense seeks 17 continually life sentences. The attempt is supposed to be held in January.

The 74 is not naming the suspected gunman in accordance through the “No Notoriety” campaign, an effort to deprive perpetrators of media attention. A farming body that research says that perpetrators seek fame for their attacks and that media coverage of fixed shootings have the right to inspire copycats.

Hunter Pollack, who 18-year-old sister grassland was killed in the shooting, tweeted the it’s time because that “this monster” to confront sentencing. “Our families need justice to it is in served,” the wrote. “It’s 1,338 job overdue.”

Manuel Oliver, who 17-year-old boy Joaquin was killed in the shooting, called a regional television terminal that the notice Friday no a revelation come the victims’ families.

“We all understand he is guilty, and finally, he knows he is guilty and will share that,” Oliver said. “That is fine.”

As people reacted to the news Friday, numerous survivors and also victims’ family members sought to move attention towards those who shed their stays in the shooting and away indigenous the suspected perpetrator.

In a tweet, shoot survivor and co-founder that the youth anti-gun violence team March for Our resides Ryan Deitsch referred to as on civilization to respect the lives lost in the attack — and “not their killer.” “Was currently under extreme ptsd every week, this verdict has worsened mine state that being,” he tweeted. “It was bound to happen yet so countless years, the structure still increase while memorials to be torn down, division my heart.”


Honor the 17 who tragically shed their lives at MSD, no their killer. Pic.twitter.com/3pA0SkxQPZ

— Ryan Deitsch (
Fred Guttenberg, who 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, offered a similar sentiment. His only comment on the guilty plea, that tweeted, is “to mental the victims.”


I have received messages this day asking me to comment on the breaking murder trial news. My just comment is to remember the victims. Mental Jaime. Rather than talk about the murderer, please sign up with us ~ above Oct 23rd to celebrate Jaime's life through signing up at https://t.co/nNPMmsRd7R pic.twitter.com/gFuWctxzp2

— Fred Guttenberg (
Giffords, the gun control group co-founded through former democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords that was shoot in a 2011 assassination attempt, offered Twitter to highlight the surname of every of those killed: Carmen Schentrup, Aaron Feis, martin Duque, Scott Beigel, Nicholas Dworet, Gina Montalto, Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, Alyssa Alhadeff, Jaime Guttenberg, Joaquin Oliver, Cara Loughran, Alex Schachter, kris Hixon, Helena Ramsay, Luke Hoyer and Meadow Pollack.

Forensic psychologist Jillian Peterson, a criminology professor in ~ Hamline university in Minnesota who developed what researchers believe is the biggest database on fixed shooters ever before created, said she was grateful that the Parkland neighborhood didn’t have to go v a grueling psychological to determine if the suspect was guilty of transferring out an attack that police speak he already admitted come committing. Peterson, who previously operated as an investigator on fatality penalty cases, stated that in such instances a guilty plea usually comes after ~ prosecutors and defense attorneys agree top top a sentence.

That’s not the situation here, and prosecutors have been do not want to take the death penalty off the table.

Among mass shooters who live v their attacks, 12 percent obtain the fatality penalty and around 20 percent get life through or there is no parole. Ultimately, Peterson stated that several factors could play into the suspect’s sentence consisting of his influence on the college community, his past disciplinary record and his own psychological health. The perpetrator had a lengthy disciplinary record and also was expelled from the Parkland high college a year prior to the tragedy. Meanwhile, simply three months before the shooting, his mother and sole parent passed away of pneumonia.


She contrasted the situation to the one against the shooter who killed 12 world at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre in 2012. In the case, prosecutors seek the fatality penalty but the gunman, 24 at the time of the shooting, pleaded not guilty by factor of insanity. That was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity of parole.

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“If we have actually the fatality penalty and the jurors who are sitting on that jury room williing come implement the fatality penalty, it’s hard to imagine a crime the is an ext deserving, v this numerous victims,” said Peterson, co-founder of The Violence Project, a nonprofit think tank. “That gift said, we additionally know this shooter has a really far-ranging trauma background and mental health history so the just hard to know just how those two things room going come weigh against each other.”

Oliver told alphabet News the he is happy the fatality penalty continues to be on the table.

“The fatality penalty that Joaquin got was four shots through an AR-15 in the middle of his school,” Oliver said. “With kids dropping ~ above the floor and bleeding out, screaming. That’s exactly how my kid died.”