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Parkland Parents Lose to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooter, Nikolas Cruz’s Flipping Lawyer

Parkland Parents Lose to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooter, Nikolas Cruz’s Flipping Lawyer

In the final hours of a two-day sentencing hearing for Nicholas Cruzgunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, family members of some of his victims had the opportunity to clash not only with him but also with his defense team over his conduct before, during and after the trial.

“This man, this animal, this piece of shit, this bastard took the lives of 17 people,” said Michael Schulman, the father of slain Parkland teacher Scott Beigel. “You have the right to defend him. You have no right, you have no right to humiliate people who have lost someone. None.”

At another point in his statement Wednesday, Schulman referenced a moment caught on court camera a few weeks earlier. Just before the pretrial hearing, one of Cruz’s attorneys, Tamara Curtis, noticed that the cameraman was manually adjusting his settings to focus on their table. She raised her middle finger, rubbing it across her cheek. Cruz then seemed to stifle a laugh.

“Zealously representing a confessed killer is not flipping the bird when you think the cameras aren’t on you,” Schulman said. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin, 17, died after being shot four times, calmly raised the middle finger at Cruz’s attorney during his testimony, mocking them for “hiding their actions.”

In the continuation of the address, Oliver added that after a trial that lasted almost four weeks, live“a lot of people are going to hate it everything from you now.”

The defense was closely followed by the parents of 17-year-old Nikolas Dvoret, Anika and Mitch Dvoret, who attended every day of the trial. In her statement, Annika Dworet called the experience of being in the same room with the “monster” that killed her son “unbearable.”

But “one of the most disgusting and unprofessional acts that happened in this courtroom,” she continued, “was the defense team holding, touching and giggling with this cold-blooded killer.”

Statements from the families ranged from measured to impassioned, but emotions in the courtroom did not reach the heights seen Tuesday, after Judge Elizabeth Scherer — who has been at odds with Cruz’s team for weeks — raised her voice over the defense as they tried to argue that the families of the victims “personally attacked” them on the first day of testimony.

“When these people are upset about certain things that have been going on at that table,” Scherer snarled at one point Tuesday, “like the middle finger being snapped in this court, and the laughing and joking — Ms. McNeill, be quiet— when these people were sitting in this courtroom watching this behavior from across the table and they want to say they don’t like it, what’s the problem?”

After repeatedly telling defense members to “sit down” and “shut up,” Scherer eventually kicked out chief public defender Melissa McNeill and her chief assistant David Wheeler from the courtroom Tuesday.

The next day, as the parents addressed Cruz one by one, they castigated him as a monster as they openly mourned what he took from them on February 14, 2018.

Oliver said he was advised not to attend the hearing, out of concern that he might speak out of turn and prejudice the proceedings. But his voice was calm as he pointed at Cruz and said, “You will die before me. And I will celebrate when you die.”

“You shot my child four times. You blew his head off. His amazing brain, ideas and dreams. You destroyed it,” he said. While he previously said he would “try” not to use profanity, Oliver added that he sees it as the duty of Parkland parents to “come up here and let you know what’s right and what’s wrong — when you’re messing with our kids.”

As he did every day before in court, a shackled Cruz faced the court blankly, showing no emotion as relatives of his victims hurled insults at him.

Linda Beigel Schulman, Beigel’s mother, painted a more graphic picture of what kind of punishment some relatives would like Cruz to receive. “True justice would be done if each family was given a bullet and your AR-15 and we’d have to pick at straws,” she said, “and each of us would have to shoot you one by one, making sure to feel every bit of it, and your fear continued to grow until the last member of the family who drew the last straw was privileged to see to it that he killed you.”

Cruz was formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday the jury recommended a sentence through the death penalty. The decision angered many members of the victims’ families, including Manuel Oliver.

“Even the death penalty was not enough for me,” he said ABC News in that time. “The way Joaquin died … the amount of suffering and pain, the shooter will never get that punishment.”

Later that day, he tweeted that the outcome of the trial sent a disturbing message to other would-be gunmen. “Mass murderers: you can live your natural life, you have 3 hot meals a day, you can shower every day, get medical help, hey, even a hobby or a new education.”

At that point, Oliver — who chose not to attend the death penalty trial — said he had not decided whether he would appear to give a victim impact statement. “I might have to do it, but I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t want to spend any more time thinking about this horrible person, this monster.”

Before reading Cruz’s total of 34 life sentences, Scherer addressed the families, praising them and their testimony. “I know you’re going to be okay,” she said, according to the report Associated Press“because you have each other.”





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