Parkland sentencing: Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life in prison

Many victims' parents are outraged that the gunman was spared the death penalty.

Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday, following two days of victim impact statements from survivors and family members of the 17 students and staff killed in the Parkland high school massacre.

Last month, a Florida jury rejected prosecutors' appeals for the death penalty, reaching a verdict on life in prison for the 2018 mass shooting Cruz committed at age 19 at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Many victims' parents were outraged by the verdict, arguing that sparing Cruz the death penalty may send a bad message to future school shooters.

The jury's decision needed to be unanimous to sentence Cruz to death.

Shooter sentenced to life in prison

Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer sentenced Cruz to life in prison, with the 34 counts of the indictment to be served consecutively.

She announced the sentence after determining she was confident that Cruz, who pleaded guilty to his charges, understood the court proceedings.

Cruz was sentenced on 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

Scherer granted a motion under Florida's so-called Son of Sam law, meaning Cruz cannot benefit monetarily from his crimes.

Prior to announcing the sentencing, Scherer commended the victims and victims' families for their grace and patience throughout the trial.

"I can't help but think how I would behave or respond if I were in your shoes," she said.

Joaquin Oliver's family speaks out against defense comments

Like others who addressed the court Wednesday, Andrea Ghersi said she wasn't planning to make a statement until Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes objected in court Tuesday to rhetoric used by victims' families and expressed concerns for the defense's children.

"I decided I would not allow any of you to make us out to be the kind of people that resort to any kind of threats, especially threats toward children," said Ghersi, whose 17-year-old brother, Joaquin Oliver, was killed in the shooting. "No one in this courtroom has had to go through what we have had to go through."

To the defense, she urged them to "learn to live with the fact that you condone the slaughter of 17 innocents."

"I promise you that one day, I don't know when, you will ask yourself, 'Did I make the right decision?'" she continued.

Oliver's father, Manuel Oliver, called the defense team's concerns over their children amid the trial "ironic and unreal."

"What about our children?" he said.

Scott Beigel's father: 'The system failed'

The father of 35-year-old Scott Beigel, a geography teacher and cross-country coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said the "system failed."

"The fact that I have to share my world with you is disgusting," he said, addressing Cruz during his statement. "The fact that I have to breathe the same air you breathe is reprehensible."

He called Cruz a coward, among several expletives, and said he hopes for "prison justice."

"I have to learn to live with the pain that you caused to my entire family," he said. "You are the lowest form of pond scum, and I apologize to pond scum for equating you with them."

He said his son was kind, had character and cared for his fellow human beings -- "something you never did," he said to Cruz.

His wife, Linda Schulman, recalled how her son managed to save 31 students during the shooting.

She read the names of the 17 victims killed in the shooting, including her "irreplaceable son."

"These are the innocent lives that we will remember and celebrate forever," she said.

Jaime Guttenberg's parents slam public defender's comments

Jennifer Guttenberg said she wasn't planning to speak in court, but she changed her mind after comments made by Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes in court on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, the elected public defender said that nobody had to endure what this defense has endured," said Guttenberg, the mother of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the shooting.

She went on to list some of the rules and restrictions the victims' families had to endure during the trial, including not wearing clothing related to their loved ones or have "major reactions or facial expressions" in response to what was said during the trial.

"And as a reminder, Mr. Weekes, and the rest of the defense attorneys, your client murdered our loved ones in cold blood. Hunted them down, shot them over and over until he knew he accomplished his goal," she said.

Jaime's father, Fred Guttenberg, who also had not planned to give another statement in court, said he and his wife have had to endure Father's Day and Mother's Day without their daughter.

"We've had to endure spending our time for birthdays at a cemetery," he said.

At the end of his statement, he said he wants to see Weekes resign "before the end of the day today."