If anyone ever was a better candidate for the death penalty it is Nikolas Cruz. Four years ago the then-20-year-old shot and killed 17 people, most of them students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Cruz pleaded guilty to all counts and last week came the sentencing phase. At least one juror held out for life in prison without the possibility of parole and that was enough.
In a surprise twist, prosecutors are now calling for an investigation following a report that one of the jurors felt threatened by a fellow juror. No other details were made public but if the alleged threat turns out to have been directed at pressuring the juror to vote a certain way, that might require a new trial or possibly a new vote on sentencing.
The juror, or jurors (we don’t know how many) cited “mitigating circumstances” as justification for choosing a life sentence for Cruz. This in spite of their unanimous agreement that Cruz’s murderous spree included “aggravating factors.” Normally in such circumstances and in states where capital punishment is legal, as in Florida, that would be enough for a death penalty verdict. The judge will sentence Cruz next month.