, , , , , , , , ,

Four years and nine months after the Parkland massacre, justice of a sort has finally been done.  The killer, who would want his name mentioned here, was sentenced to life in prison.   In Florida, a unanimous jury is required for the death penalty.  The parents of those killed and wounded are not amused:  

Fred Guttenberg, who lost 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, said he hopes that the shooter, 24-year-old *****, dies in prison.

‘I’m stunned. I’m devastated. There are 17 victims that did not receive justice today,’ he told reporters. ‘My daughter — you’ll notice she was the 16th of the 17 to be read today. She was shot running down a hallway. Now, what mitigating factor was it that they used on her? Were they going to suggest that he didn’t have the fine motor skill to shoot that gun as she was running down the hallway?’

‘This jury failed our families today. But, I will tell you, the monster’s going to go to prison. And in prison, I hope and pray he receives the kind of mercy from prisoners that he showed to my daughter and the 16 others,’ Guttenberg said. ‘He is going to go to prison, and he will die in prison. And I will be waiting to read that news on that.’

Guttenberg was not alone:

The parents of 14-year-old Alyssa, Lori and Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, also voiced their disbelief.

‘We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today,’ Lori said. ‘This should have been the death penalty, 100%. Seventeen people were brutally murdered on Feb. 14, 2018. I sent my daughter to school, and she was shot eight times. I am so beyond disappointed and frustrated with this outcome. I do not understand. I just don’t understand this.’

‘I’m disgusted with our legal system. I’m disgusted with those jurors,’ her husband added. “’I’m disgusted with this system that you can allow 17 dead and 17 others shot and wounded and not give the death penalty. What do we have the death penalty for? What is the purpose of it? You set a precedent today.’

‘You set a precedent for the next mass killing, and nothing happens to you,’ he continued. ‘You’ll get life in jail. I’m sorry, that is not OK. As a country, we need to stand up and say that’s not OK. I pray that that animal suffers every day of his life in jail. And he should have a short life.’

The Douglas High School Campus
credit: goolemaps

Take the link and read the whole thing.  It appears there was one juror who may not have been truthful when they said they could vote for the death penalty:

In the end, for each count against the shooter, the jurors did find that the crime was eligible for the death penalty and the state had proven the aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt but “one or more jurors” had found that the mitigating circumstances outweighed those aggravating factors.

Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will make the final decision on sentencing at a hearing scheduled for Nov. 1, but cannot legally stray from the jury’s recommendation of life without parole.

Scherer received a note from juror Denise Cunha after the verdict was issued and filed it in the public court docket Wednesday afternoon after redacting her phone number. The note stated as follows:

‘Your Honor,

I would like to notify you that Melody Vanoi, one of the jurors in this case, heard jurors who voted for the death penalty stating that I had already made up my mind on voting for life before the trial started.

This allegation is untrue and I maintained my oath to the court that I would be fair and unbiased.

The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life.

I just wanted to make you aware of this matter. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at [number redacted].

All the best to you and yours,

Denise Cunha


There are reports two other jurors may also refused to impose the death penalty after Cunha’s recalcitrance.  It would seem they needed an amoral, pseudo-ethical cover before voting to spare the life of a remorseless monster.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been doing much right.  We’ll see if he’s able to do this right as well:

Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes to work with the Florida legislature to reform laws in the aftermath of the Parkland shooter’s sentencing — no death penalty — over four years after the massacre.

‘When you have something happen, like this Parkland massacre, you need to hold people accountable, and nobody was being held accountable,’ DeSantis said during a campaign speech in Coral Springs, Florida, over the weekend:

‘And so I came into office almost a year after it happened. First week in office, we removed the sheriff of this county. We then convened a special grand jury that investigated failures not just here but other parts of the country … [and] other parts of the state about different types of school security, and that led to this report, where we then removed the number of the school board members who were derelict.’

‘And that’s good, but then you’re sitting there last week and you see, four and a half years after this happen, they do that the penalty phase,’ he said, noting that at least one juror refused ‘to budge and refused to authorize the ultimate punishment.’

‘I’m sorry. When you murder 17 people in cold blood, the only appropriate punishment is capital punishment. That should have been a death sentence,’ DeSantis said, telling the crowd that he plans to work with the legislature to reform some of the laws.

‘You can’t just have one holdout do that, and who knows what was going on back there, but that was a miscarriage of justice. That did not honor the victims and the families, and all that they went through. And I think we’ll be able to do something legislatively,’ he said, reemphasizing that the sentence was not fair to victims and their families.

‘This goes on and drags on for this time, and that is not, I think, a way to honor the rights of victims,’ he said, adding that he wants the criminal justice system ‘not to be bending over backwards for the criminals but to stand up for victims and victims’ rights.’

‘And that’s what we’re gonna do,’ he vowed.

Final Thoughts:  This is not a case of mistaken identity.  There is no question about the identity of the killer, or about what he did.  He confessed and plead guilty, but even had he not, there was more than enough, incontrovertible, evidence to prove the case beyond any doubt.  The killer’s rights were not violated, there was no error in the trial record.  None of the sometimes valid procedural arguments against the death penalty applied in this case.  This was not a wrongly accused person whose case would be overturned by a higher court.

Why did the juror hold out?  Apparently she hid behind the argument the killer is mentally ill.  In a sense, who can argue that anyone who wantonly murders 17 and wounds more is anything other than mentally ill—and evil.  But in this case, there was, unquestionably, premeditation.  There is evidence he wanted to kill for years.  The killer, after killing all he pleased, abandoned his rifle and snuck out with fleeing students, demonstrating a guilty conscience and an attempt to escape consequences.  He was more than sufficiently sane to try to conceal himself and flee, and was found competent to stand trial and to enter a guilty plea.

No.  She refused because she wanted to.  She wanted to be on that jury to throw a monkey wrench into the works of justice, to substitute her superior intellect and anti-death penalty morality for the wishes of the community.  She alone stood for social justice.  She planned to subvert actual justice, to plunge the families of the victims into a fresh hell, and under current Florida law, she got her way.

To be sure, there is blame to go around.  The local police, and particularly the corrupt and feckless FBI had repeated opportunities to intercept the killer, opportunities spread over years, but did nothing.  The school district, led by a disciple of Barack Obama, ignored the killer, imposing only “restorative justice,” imposing no discipline, no consequences for his bizarre, repeated and dangerous behavior.

Are the Parkland schools any safer?  As I’ve previously written—the SMM Parkland archive is here—the commission deliberating over the incident, in a moment of sanity, recommended arming willing teachers.  That recommendation has not, to date, been implemented.  What would one expect in a school district run by an Obamite?

Unless convicts administer their own justice, the killer will be a guest of the state for a half century or more, fed, clothed, given medical care, entertained, even educated at public expense.  Our corrupt media will surely write stories about him, further twisting the dagger ever-present in the families.  Women will correspond with the killer, and as is common with felon celebrities, will want to marry him.  We often obsess over “closure,” which term is often a euphemism for “social justice.”  The families, the survivors, of the Parkland massacre do not want social justice, but actual justice, which has been forever denied them.  In that, our justice system has failed not only them, but us all, because we do have the right, the obligation, to remove monsters from our midst.

The single juror who imposed her will on us all will have to live with that.  I suspect it will be far easier for her than for the families of the dead.