FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering 17 people during a rampage at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, leaving a jury to decide whether he will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
Relatives of the victims who sat in the courtroom and watched the hearing via Zoom shook their heads or broke down in tears as Cruz entered his pleas and later apologized for his crimes.
“Today we saw a cold and calculating killer confess to the murder of my daughter Gina and 16 other innocent victims at their school,” Tony Montalto said. “His guilty pleas are the first step in the judicial process but there is no change for my family. Our bright, beautiful, and beloved daughter Gina is gone while her killer still enjoys the blessing of life in prison.”
The guilty pleas will set the stage for a penalty trial in which 12 jurors will determine whether Cruz, 23, should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole. Given the case’s notoriety, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer plans to screen thousands of prospective jurors. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.
Cruz entered his pleas after answering a long list of questions from Scherer aimed at confirming his mental competency. He was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for those wounded in the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, located just outside Fort Lauderdale.
As several parents shook their heads, Cruz apologized, saying, “I’m very sorry for what I did. … I can’t live with myself sometimes.” He also added that he wished it was up to the survivors to determine whether he lived or died.
Anthony Borges, a former Stoneman Douglas student who was shot five times and severely wounded, told reporters after the hearing that he accepted Cruz’s apology, but noted that it was not up to him to decide the confessed murderer’s fate.
“He made a decision to shoot the school,” Borges said. “I am not God to make the decision to kill him or not. That’s not my decision. My decision is to be a better person and to change the world for every kid. I don’t want this to happen to anybody again. It hurts. It hurts. It really hurts. So, I am just going to keep going. That’s it.”
Following the pleas Wednesday, former Broward State Attorney Mike Satz recounted the details of the murders. Cruz killed 14 students and three staff members on Valentine’s Day 2018 during a seven-minute rampage through a three-story building at Stoneman Douglas, investigators said. They said he shot victims in the hallways and in classrooms with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Cruz had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas a year earlier after a history of threatening, frightening, unusual and sometimes violent behavior that dated back to preschool.
The shootings caused some Stoneman Douglas students to launch the March for Our Lives movement, which pushes for stronger gun restrictions nationally.
Since days after the shooting, Cruz’s attorneys had offered to have him plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, saying that would spare the community the emotional turmoil of reliving the attack at trial. But Satz rejected the offer, saying Cruz deserved a death sentence, and appointed himself lead prosecutor. Satz, 79, stepped down as state attorney in January after 44 years, but remains Cruz’s chief prosecutor.
His successor, Harold Pryor, is opposed to the death penalty but has said he will follow the law. Like Satz, he never accepted the defense offer — as an elected official, that would have been difficult, even in liberal Broward County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
By having Cruz plead guilty, his attorneys will be able to argue during the penalty hearing that he took responsibility for his actions.
mRNA vaccines weaken immune system even after COVID-19 recovery, according to UK data
COVID-19 vaccines appear to inhibit the body’s natural ability to produce antibodies, leaving vaccinated people vulnerable to infection.
The alarming information was contained in the UK government’s latest “COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report,” which noted that “N antibody levels appear to be lower in people who acquire infection following two doses of vaccination.”
Vaccine researcher Alex Berenson first highlighted the UK government’s alarming admission, warning it means vaccinated people will never be able to acquire full immunity even after they’ve recovered from an infection.
“What the British are saying is they are now finding the vaccine interferes with your body’s innate ability after infection to produce antibodies against not just the spike protein but other pieces of the virus,” Berenson explained.
“Specifically, vaccinated people don’t seem to be producing antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, the shell of the virus, which are a crucial part of the response in unvaccinated people.”
The result is “vaccinated people will be far more vulnerable to mutations in the spike protein EVEN AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN INFECTED AND RECOVERED ONCE,” Berenson writes.
“It also means the virus is likely to select for mutations that go in exactly that direction, because those will essentially give it an enormous vulnerable population to infect. And it probably is still more evidence the vaccines may interfere with the development of robust long-term immunity post-infection.”
Berenson’s research dovetails with results from an independent study conducted by an Illinois physician who demonstrated how the COVID vaccine suppresses the body’s adaptive immune system, leaving vaccinated individuals more susceptible to illness and possibly explaining the phenomenon of “breakthrough infections.”
“If they have this low [immunity] and it stays and it persists… and that adaptive immune system response persists… it’s going to have a bad response to any other kind of viral infection,” claimed Dr. Nathan Thompson.
“If you looked at that blood work, would you say that this person is very susceptible to having another viral infection, and maybe…you just might call it a breakthrough infection, you guys see that? A breakthrough infection.”
“Could it be that after this maybe this is happening in a lot of people and leaving them wide open to have breakthrough infections after that?” the doctor questioned, imploring other doctors to conduct their own tests.
COVID-19 vaccine developer Dr. David LV Bauer also admitted the jabs destroy the body’s immune response, lowering crucial antibodies necessary to fight off disease.
Last week, Berenson during an appearance on the ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ also broke down how UK government data also showed double-vaccinated individuals contracted COVID at higher rates than unvaccinated people.
Washington Post editorial board calls for United States military invasion of Haiti
The Washington Post editorial board is calling for yet more military action in foreign nations, this time much closer to home in a seeming throwback to the era of the Monroe Doctrine.
“Haiti’s spiraling mayhem, florid lawlessness and humanitarian meltdown were predictable following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July,” the op-ed published earlier in the week began. “In a country already crippled by governmental dysfunction, the vacuum of political legitimacy and authority after that murder left a breeding ground for anarchy.”
The article links Biden administration ‘inaction’ with the recent kidnapping of 17 Ohio-based missionaries in Port-au-Prince. Currently, a criminal gang is demanding $17 million for their release, as FBI agents are reportedly on the ground searching for clues as to where they are being held.
“The mess was largely ignored by the Biden administration, which has been preoccupied with other crises, until the kidnapping Saturday of 17 missionaries — a Canadian and 16 Americans, including five children — near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince,” WaPo continues.
“Now the maelstrom in the hemisphere’s poorest nation is no longer ignorable,” the editorial board writes.
Here are the key lines calling for US military action:
Yet for all its unintended consequences, outside intervention could also establish a modicum of stability and order that would represent a major humanitarian improvement on the status quo, and with it, the prospect of lives saved and livelihoods enabled.
In 2010, the U.S. sent a major Navy and Marine deployment to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response in the wake of a deadly earthquake that devastated the country. Also this summer, a couple hundred Marines were sent in response to an earthquake that resulted in the deaths of more that 2,000 Haitians.
The editorial board concludes, “In the cost-benefit analysis that would attend any fresh intervention, policymakers must be alert to the risks, but also to the enormous peril of continuing to do nothing.”
How Florida could save Christmas: Port authority tells cargo vessels waiting to dock in California to divert via Panama Canal to The Sunshine State where there are no backlogs
The Jacksonville Port Authority said it’s the solution to an unprecedented logjam at The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where weeks-long queues are slowing commerce ahead of the year’s busiest shopping season.
It’s a sharp contrast from the scene in Jacksonville, which officials said has maintained terminal fluidity – and set a new container volume record – despite market disruptions.
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