Parkland Nikolas Cruz school shooting
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
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Terry Spencer, AP

It’s possible Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz talked himself into a death sentence.

Prosecutors played video last week at Cruz’s penalty trial of jailhouse interviews he did this year with two of their mental health experts. In frank and sometimes graphic detail, he answered their questions about his massacre of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018 — his planning, his motivation, the shootings.

While it can’t be known what the 12 jurors are thinking, if any are wavering between voting for death or life without parole, his statements to Dr. Charles Scott, a forensic psychiatrist, and Robert Denney, a neuropsychologist, didn’t help his cause.

“All of this made Cruz himself perhaps one of the state’s best witnesses,” said David S. Weinstein, a Miami defense attorney and former prosecutor who has been monitoring the trial.

The jury will likely decide Cruz’s fate this week. For the 24-year-old to get a death sentence, the jury must be unanimous on at least one victim. But if all 17 counts come back with at least one vote in favor of life in prison, then that would be his sentence. Closing arguments are scheduled Tuesday, with deliberations beginning Wednesday.

Because Cruz’s defense is that his birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnancy left him brain damaged, prosecutors could have experts examine him for their rebuttal case.

Scott and Denney interviewed him separately for several hours. In each, Cruz sat across the table, handcuffed, a sweater draped over his chest. He sometimes asked for a pen and paper to add diagrams and drawings to his explanations.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown on a courtroom monitor during a videotaped interview with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Robert L Denney as Dr. Denney testifies during the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

“The question is: What will the jury take away from the interviews? Cold-blooded killer who was vengeful and excited about the murders, or a person so hopelessly deranged that he can’t be anything but crazy?” said Bob Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s law school.

Excerpts from those interviews, some of which are graphic:

HOW LONG HAD CRUZ BEEN CONTEMPLATING A SCHOOL SHOOTING?

“A very long time,” Cruz told Scott, starting when he was 13 or 14, about five years before he did it.

“It was just a thought. I was reading books,” Cruz said. “It would come and go. It would pop up in my mind.”

The thoughts would return when he watched violent videos, particularly documentaries about mass shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and elsewhere, he said.

HOW DID CRUZ PLAN THE MASSACRE?

“I did my own research,” Cruz told Scott. “I studied mass murderers and how they did it, their plans, what they got and what they used.”

He detailed the lessons he learned: Watch for would-be rescuers coming around corners, keep some distance from your targeted victims, attack as fast as possible — and “the police didn’t do anything.”

“I have a small opportunity to shoot people for maybe 20 minutes,” Cruz said.

HOW DID CRUZ PREPARE?

He told Scott he put his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in a bag the night before and slipped its magazines into a shooting vest. He adjusted the gun’s sights and imagined what the recoil would feel like.

“I didn’t get any sleep,” Cruz said.

He donned the burgundy polo shirt he received when he was a member of the Stoneman Douglas Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program so he could escape by mingling with fleeing students.

“If I had all my (shooting) gear on, they would have called the cops,” Cruz said.

When he set out at 2 p.m., he told the Uber driver he was in the school orchestra and the bag carried his instrument.

WHAT DID CRUZ DO WHEN HE ARRIVED?

“I walked through the gates. Hopefully, there would be no security guards, but I was wrong,” Cruz told Scott. “I was looking at the guy and he was watching me.”

When Cruz attended Stoneman Douglas, guards frequently checked him for weapons because of his erratic and sometimes violent behavior. When he was expelled a year before the shooting, a guard predicted he would eventually return and shoot people.

Fearing he’d been discovered, Cruz sprinted into a three-story classroom building and quickly assembled his weapon. He told a student who happened upon him to flee because something bad was about to happen.

He then went floor to floor, shooting down hallways and into classrooms, firing 140 shots in all.

“I thought they would scream,” Cruz said about his first three victims. He shot them point-blank outside a locked classroom door. “It was more like they passed out and blood came pouring out of their head. It was really nasty and sad to see.”

But he continued.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown in court during the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

“I think I showed mercy to three girls. I was going to walk away, but they showed nasty faces and I went back,” Cruz said. “I thought they were going to attack me.”

Cruz shot several of his victims a second time after they fell, including his final one — a student writhing from a leg wound. He said the boy “gave me a nasty look. A look of anger.”

“His head blew up like a water balloon,” Cruz said.

WHY DID CRUZ STOP SHOOTING?

Students and teachers fled the building or locked themselves in classrooms. The third-floor hallway was now empty except for victims.

“I couldn’t find anyone to kill,” he said. “I didn’t want to do it anymore and I didn’t think there was anyone else in the building.”

He dropped his gun and vest on the stairwell and fled. He was captured an hour later — the police officer had been looking for a young male in a Stoneman Douglas ROTC polo.

CRUZ’S FINAL SAY

As Denney was finishing the final interview, he asked Cruz if there was anything else he should know. Cruz thought for 10 seconds before responding: “Why I chose Valentine’s Day.”

“Because I thought no one would love me,” Cruz explained. “I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and I wanted to ruin it for everyone.”

“Do you mean for the family members of the kids that were killed?” Denney asked.

“No, for the school,” Cruz replied.

The holiday will never be celebrated there again, he said.

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106 COMMENTS

      • “Unbelievable.”

        Perfectly believable.

        Classic ‘Incel’ (involuntary celibate) behavior. In his mind, the reason he can’t get a girl is the fault of girls in general.

        No, it’s not them, it’s *you* loser… 🙁

        • Sometimes I wonder if legal prostitution would offer an outlet for these people but I doubt it’d be that simple. Along with the standard hormonal drive and perceived loneliness they often also have control issues and entitled narcissism that a cash-in-hand lay won’t satisfy.

        • “Sometimes I wonder if legal prostitution would offer an outlet for these people but I doubt it’d be that simple.”

          I doubt it, they would think that was an admission of their own failure to get a girl the old-fashioned way. In their delusion, they don’t see anything wrong with themselves. They just can’t understand why no one would date them.

          Besides, they get the same physical ‘release’ simply by yanking it…
          🙁

        • I’m fairly confident that “Classic ‘Incel’ behavior” of this sort requires a hell of a lot more than just not getting laid in high school.

          Lots of people didn’t get any in high school and this was true for a lot of decades. I think we can confidently state that the “vast majority” didn’t shoot up the place over it.

          This sorta behavior requires a mix of factors.

        • Agree with S9, it’s more about being socially awkward, never knowing what to say, failing miserably at every attempt (or perceived as such), and just simmering and seething. Then he locks into a “revenge” plan and obsesses on it for a while and figures out how to pull it off. In the case of Stoneman, the security didn’t put up much resistance.
          Cruz is really just a weirdo with a gun and bad intent.

      • I am genuinely concerned that our own dacian will end up rampaging through a school for this very reason. He is obviously very mentally ill and I have no doubts he’s still a virgin.

  1. A firing squad made up of volunteer parents of this bastard’s victims is the only appropriate response.

    No blindfold.

    • Just put him in a deep, dark, damp, cold hole for the rest of his life. Let the mold and mildew eat him alive. Enough food and water to keep him alive. People are wrong about hell. It isn’t hot. It’s damp and cold

    • And gunshot. No immediate fatal wounds. He should linger for a while.

      Other methods: gas chamber, short drop hanging, electric chair set to slow roast instead of flash fry, or the classic breaking on the wheel.

        • 3 shots, one in the gut, 2, one in each hip.

          Writhing in pain from the bone wounds, slowly dying of infection from the feces in the gut shot… 🙂

  2. Why he talked to anyone after doing that is beyond me but he did have the huevos to pull it off.
    the death penalty is overrated, keep him in seg with no one to talk to for the rest of his life.

    • Colossal waste of taxpayers hard earned money. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons it cost on average $40,000 per inmate each year. Just to keep them alive. Plus Medical and Legal costs. That could easily amount to over $2,000,000 in his lifetime. Money better spent on more positive societal needs. Literally 100’s of millions of $$$ are wasted every year keeping scumbags like this alive. When the solutions costs less than 50 cents. Even with the high price of ammunition. He has No socially redeeming qualities and can never be released back into society. Stop wasting money and Execute him. after he gets his 1 appeal. Not multiple appeals over decades. Looking for a sympathetic Jury of Judge.

      • The majority of the cost in the prison systems are fixed and do not go up or down with inmate population. Considering how the legal bill to execute him is probably going to be $3 million I would say that’s the waste. If you want him dead for revenge you can just say that but claiming it’s to save money is ridiculous and completely untrue.

        • I appeal and if found guilty. BANG… Costs are fixed in the prison system? You’re either disingenuous, Ill informed or an Idiot. The costs to incarcerate convicted Criminals has gone UP exponentially every year for decades. Less than 5 minutes of actual research proves that, but you keep making excuses.

        • if capital punishment really costs $Mn3 that is a serious problem that must be fixed. NO WAY could it actually cost that.

          Can use a courtyard at the prison, space already there and paid for. Firing squad team volunteer. Five runds each, at a ripoff price of a biuck a bang, ten shooters. That’s a hunnert dollah. No hood, so no cost there. Let him wear his ornge onesie. Yes the holes till make it possibly not reusable. But maybe the next guy will notice the holes and figure out how they got there. Might make HIUM behave a bit better.

          Whenever I’ve had major surgery and they put me out for it, the anaesthsiologist’s bill is only a few hundred, the chemical itself is maybe forty bucks. Within two seconds of the plunger being pushed down I was comatose. They could have dissected me alove and I’d never have known. What is this madness about special cocktails, tens of thousands of dollar,s when hospitals knock folks out dozens of times a day for chump change. DO that first, then no chemical appplied will be detectable by the one being executed because he’s out cold. Stupid state pureaucrats trying to magn;e things up again, and managing fairly well to do so.

          Seems any time da gummit tries to do something they d it classically wrong, and outrageously expensively. Seems they exist to swallow our tax dollars as rapidly as possible.

        • Darkman
          You have absolutely no clue how a prison is run or what it cost to run one. Outside of the initial cost of the facility itself the most expensive thing in the prison isn’t the inmates, it’s the guards. The cheapest thing in the prison is the inmate themselves. Money isn’t directly spent on an inmate outside of food cost and Medical Care. Food cost is $6.38 per day in fiscal year 2020 in Texas and I don’t know what medical cost is because I haven’t reviewed that part of the budget. When they come up with the average cost per inmate it’s just that, an average cost based on annual expense versus the average amount of inmates in the facilities per annum. If you take 10,000 of those inmates out assuming a population of 100,000 the cost to run the system for a year does not decline by 10%, it might drop two percent at most. Here in Texas the prison system was 100% self-sufficient and didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime until the early 1980s when people started throwing a fit about how well inmates were fed not realizing that the inmates grew all of their own food and the cotton that was produced at the prisons paid for the entire prison system including maintenance on the buildings and the salaries of the guards. Once they were forced by political calculations to stop feeding the inmates well suddenly the prison system became a large burden on the taxpayers and the inmates no longer had a job working the farms that the prisons were built on.

        • Mississippi State Prison at Angola turns in funds to the general fund of Mississippi every year according to the warden. It not only runs at zero cost to the taxpayers but earns excess money. The prisoners grow their own food and engage in other activities that generate cash flow. The Angola Rodeo is a huge money maker and a very popular event in Mississippi. It takes ten years without a demerit to make trustee and only trustees are eligible to participate in those activities. Several years ago I, with aa small group, were given the privilege of touring Angola. It is no longer the black hole it was at one time but it is still a prison in the strictest sense of the word. If Mississippi can do it, why can’t other states?

      • guilty as hell and nuttier than a fruitcake….put him down and forget about him…and do it as quickly as possible….this is a dangerous animal…..

    • The death penalty is overrated because it is underused. It loses it’s significance after 40 or so years of waiting for appeals.

    • If he was dead, we wouldn’t be wasting our time on this conversation. Nor would we be at risk of repeating it 20 years from now

    • Or him injuring or killing prison jail staff. Like happened in Iowa last year. To a nurse and prison guard by 2 repeat violent offenders attempting to escape.

  3. Love the idea of giving him solitary confinement for the rest if his days. No tv, books, or outside visits. Contemplate his actions with no outside stimulus.
    If you think his crazy now, wait for years down the road.

      • Darkman
        California has Pelican Bay which has complete isolation for decades on end for prisoners. The federal prison in Florence Colorado that holds the Unabomber and El Chapo puts inmates in a cell that doesn’t even have a door. It has a hole in the ceiling. The inmates never even see another inmate and the guards don’t say a work to the inmates.

    • That’ll require we the taxpayers to pay for his stay in prison. Which equals @ $40,000 a yr. at least.
      I say electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad or hanging.

  4. This punk is evil, not crazy. Many confuse the two. Instant death penalty cause there is no question of his guilt. Public hanging with no hood over his head. They gave Manson life and he had a fan club and followers, do we want that again ?

    • Far too kind.

      A fenced in enclosure with large dogs that haven’t been fed in few days for him… 🙁

  5. Disgusting piece of garbage. Should be left naked in a 60’ degree concrete cell for 10 years with no visitation or stimulus + one 800 calorie meal a day. Meal should consist of stale bread + unflavored oatmeal and only water comes from the toilet. Nothing but a bible in the room and his own thoughts.

    After 10 years of reflection, regret, and losing his mind then he should be summarily executed. That way there is no hope for those 10 years other than maybe forgiveness by our lord.

    Should be fairly cheap compared to the “rehabilitation” we currently offer the undeserving out there.

    Hearing his words about how HE didn’t feel loved and HE got dirty looks. Thinks he’s victim in all this. Pure evil.

  6. Firing squad followed by an electric chair just to be sure he’s dead, dead, dead. Remains dropped in a volcano. Anyone else thinking about repeating his sht?

  7. Something very slow & VERY painful,
    Like stake him out on a ant nest & cover him with sugar,,, record the episode & put it on tic toc & Fakebook type platforms that the jerks like him view constantly…👍

  8. How is him getting the punishment he deserves a problem? I am against the death penalty for most crimes and circumstances. When I support it, the crime involves treason or death, and the criminal admits he is responsible and it can be proven that is true. I don’t want any potentially innocent people executed in error. But if the criminal said he did it and wants to be put to death, let him have what he wants.

    • I have to disagree. When there is no question of guilt and a jury decides that execution if the appropriate punishment. there is no reason for the judge to not impose the death penalty. A defendant has the right to appeal but those appeals have to be based on procedural error. If “new evidence” is uncovered, then there is a procedure for the governor of the state to grant a pardon or stay the stay the sentence until a court can review the alleged “evidence”.

  9. It’s a shame that David Hogg just doesn’t get that Cruz changed the course of his life. That is was Cruz and not Smith&Wesson. Meanwhile the rest of us have to contend with Hogg because of Cruz.

    Would he get life? I doubt it. All it would take is Covid 2.0 and the Dems would let him out. Even presidential assassins get out.

    Will he get death?

  10. No torture. Just hang him, on prime time television. Make it clear this is what happens to the likes of him.

  11. “I have a small opportunity to shoot people for maybe 20 minutes,”

    That, right there. What I have mentioned before that is common to all mass shooters – they all have a window of time before they meet any resistance that can stop them because no one else there is armed with a gun before police can arrive.

    We have seen the effects many times of what happens when a law abiding ordinary citizen that’s already on scene steps up and engages the shooter or would-be-shooter – the shooter gets stopped either soon (or immediately) when they start shooting or they get deterred from beginning. – resulting overall in many more lives saved than waiting for police to show up.

    The only real difference, basically, between a mass shooting and a school shooting is that a school shooting takes place in a school.

    The Crime Prevention Research Center recently released some research on the matter showing that good guys with guns stop far more shootings than the FBI has wrongly led the public to believe > https://crimeresearch.org/2022/10/massive-errors-in-fbis-active-shooting-reports-regarding-cases-where-civilians-stop-attacks-instead-of-4-4-the-correct-number-is-at-least-34-4-in-2021-it-is-at-least-49-1-excluding-gun-free-zon/

    • He counted on at least 20 minutes. The police have profiled themselves in far too many tragedies. Armed citizens are the only hope.

  12. “Cruz said about his first three victims. He shot them point-blank outside a locked classroom door.”

    Like I’ve said before, over 80% of those killed or wounded in school shootings are shot within 30 feet of a lock down area. They are locked out and can’t get in because lock down procedures dictate that once the door is locked its not opened until police arrive and they are given verification from school leadership. Students trying to flee the school or area are sent back into these kill zones by school staff or instructions/training to attempt to get into a lock down area, most that died doing that would have probably lived if they had been permitted to flee the school. Most school shooters hunt these areas for these reasons, they know this.

  13. Good. Kill him and save some tax dollars because we don’t have to feed him anymore.
    And cancel out his name from all history books. He deserves no fame or recognition.

  14. I don’t even know why they are trying him?
    the left/libs and media always say the AR15 is at fault and should be blamed….that darn gun MADE him do it so we need to melt it down and let him go because it held him hostage and made him do it!

    yesssss I am being sarcastic!

  15. Too kind Ralph, this deserves a very bad end. Ol’ Sparky still exists at Starke, except leave the sponge dry. Bypass the switch in favor of a rheostat, dialed up slow.

    Burn baby, burn.

    Make it a horrific spectacle that generations will never forget, and henceforth fewer still would be willing to risk. That will put a damper on these cowardly acts, guaranteed.

    • Might as well shred the 8A, right?

      I mean, we’ve already done a number on 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 so why not gut the whole BoR.

        • Your OP is a design for a torture-method of execution, which is openly admitted in said OP.

          That’s patently unconstitutional under the 8A.

          It’s pretty hard to call yourself a Constitutionalist or talk about 2A rights deserving respect when you’re openly discussing wantonly ignoring other parts of the BoR as part of what amounts to a revenge fantasy.

        • No more so than the prescribed and legal under the 8th punitive for traitors and sedition “hung until dead”. Which involves hoisted by neck stretching the spinal column/cord with the full weight of the body, and a very slow asphyxiation. Inarguable point as to whether that ticks the bar as cruel and unusual any more so than I enumerated above, and my recommendation can be tailored to fit within the allowed framework.

          The only thing different is the optics, which are, pardon the pun, shocking.

          The only fantasy is your leap to conclusion because you cannot wrap your mind around the framework of what is, and what is not allowable under color of law.

          And you are wrong, not a single iota of revenge in this as I wrote in the last paragraph (which you ought read again without the emotional knee jerk). Stop trying to interject your own “facts”, disingenuously playing the game like a far leftist doesn’t help your argument.

          That is Dacian & Minor’s methodology, and beneath you, I thought.

        • stry9ch, call it whatever your little heart desires. The fact is the execution is not a violation of the 8th Amendment as the Supreme Court has repeatedly found in favor of capital punishment.

  16. A case where there is no a shred of doubt of guilt. The crime was heinous, and the death penalty is appropriate. His interviews show he knew right from wrong, and that he was not really insane, just evil.

    While I do not trust government with the power of life and death, this case presents no conceivable doubt he is guilty. When such a case is presented, it is only moral to use the death penalty.

    Even with the evil, he deserves to die without undue cruelty. No dignity in causing him to suffer. We are better, it should be a simple, effective and quick task.

  17. If only he’d had to wait another couple of years to buy the gun he would have grown past this phase and gone on to lead a happy and productive life. So the supporters of raising the age limit to buy seem to believe.

    • No Snake Eyes, didntchya read the part with his interview? He’d been planning this for years. That’s not a kid phase he’d get over.

      Besides, God’s Word REQUIRES the death panalty for those who murder with no justification.

      Does severl thngs:
      first, he can NEVER recidivate (kill gain, sorry to spell it out plainly but it seems you have a comprehension problem)
      Second others, seeing that’s what happens to people who do such things, are more likley to reconsider when they KNOW they will be executed.
      Third No unfair/undeserved cost burden on the innocents he left behind, paying tens of thousands a year to warehouse such evil.
      Fourth justice REQUIRES it.

    • The first cop on the scene heard the shots and told the arriving cops to NOT go in. Brilliant. Chief Isreal should have been fired. Long and short, I’ve got no concern for these kids that are on the radar for YEARS of bad behavior. Cops and parents were numb to this guy. This is a reason to bring back the traditional nut house. BTW, do you know where the closet one is, nope because there aren’t any. We don’t even lock up the brazen shoplifters and don’t get me started with New York and the no cash bail, even for hardened criminals. Come on man. Really.

      • That fits a pattern. Cops don’t want to go in unless they are forced to. They want to be able to collect a pension. They would rather the shooter run out of bullets before they arrest him.

  18. There are several neuropsychology videos out there that examine this guy as a case study of someone pretending to be mentally ill and being absolutely terrible at feigning mental illness.

    He planned it, he did it and he incorporated a shitty plan to avoid the more serious legal consequences or maybe even end up like Hinckley.

    I’d venture the guess that he was mad at “the system” in general and thought he could kill a bunch of people and then “put one over” on the system as a series of middle fingers to that system because he greatly overestimated his own intelligence.

  19. What they need to do…is have him “Escape custody” Take him to a black site, Fentanyl overdose and part the body out for useful transplant organs.

  20. Short Rope, Long Drop.

    My major objection to the death penalty is simple: The government is so incompetent we can’t actually trust them to fix potholes in the road, so how can we trust them to not execute someone who is not actually guilty.

    In this case, I have zero doubts or qualms.

    • Mark H that is a RATION of you know what. The truth of the matter is you oppose the death penalty period. It does not have anything to do with the possibility of a “mistake”. First, state governments are not usually responsible for pot hole filling. That is usually the town, city or county’s responsibility.
      Execution is reserved for the most heinous of criminals. Criminals that are a waste of air. You and you kind keep claiming there is a “possibility” that they may not be guilty. While it is possible that an error can occur, it is HIGHLY unlikely as there are appeals, etc to decide the matters.

        • “Humanity” my posterior! Mark H has no feelings at all for the victims of his criminal buddies. All he cares about is his criminal buds and their “feelings”.

  21. This is why we need red flag laws:

    When Cruz attended Stoneman Douglas, guards frequently checked him for weapons because of his erratic and sometimes violent behavior. When he was expelled a year before the shooting, a guard predicted he would eventually return and shoot people.

    Red Flagging a kid would mean holding parents responsible for having all weapons in a safe or removing them from the house.

  22. I’m all for passing a Law that all Mass Shooters go straight to Old Sparky. They don’t pass Go, collect $200, and it’s a complete waste of Taxpayer dollars to psychoanalize your crazy a$$ to see if you’re competent to stand trial.
    Nope, build an Express Lane and they’re meeting their maker in 6 months.

  23. Parkland Killer Nikolas Cruz May Have Talked His Way Into a Death Sentence
    Good. At least he’ll be held accountable now.

    • I have to wonder about these so called “mental health experts”. What is their stand on capital punishment and could that stand have colored their “conclusions”? Ya Think?

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