‘My life won’t ever be the identical.’ Courtroom hears first sufferer impression claims in Parkland shooter’s dying penalty trial

“Soon she’ll be a professional footballer. She’ll get her law degree and possibly become one of the most successful business negotiation lawyers the world will see,” said Ilan Alhadeff. told a Broward County court on Tuesday, testifying in the death penalty hearing of his daughter’s killer.

“She was supposed to get married, and I would dance between my father and my daughter,” he said, his voice broken. “She’s going to have a beautiful family, four kids, living in a gorgeous house – a beach house.

“All those plans ended with Alyssa’s murder,” he said.

The families of the 17 people killed in the Parkland school shooting continued their stand Tuesday, issuing victim impact statements to illustrate the toll that the killings have caused when The jury decides whether to sentence the shooter to death.

Nikolas Cruz, now 23 years old, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murderand this phase of the criminal trial is aimed at determining his sentence: Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, while Cruz’s defense attorneys are asking the jury for a general prison sentence. body without the ability to pardon.

To recommend a death sentence, jurors must agree. If they do, the judge can choose to follow the recommendation or sentence Cruz to life in prison.

To make their decision, jurors will hear prosecutors and defense attorneys argue over the aggravating and mitigating circumstances — the reasons why Cruz should or should not receive the death penalty. Victim impact claims add another layer, giving the victim’s family and friends their own day in court, even though the judge told the jury that the statements made no sense. considered an aggravating factor.

“We’re a family of five trying to fit in a world set up for even numbers,” said Tom Hoyer, whose 15-year-old son Luke – the youngest in the family – was killed said. “Two, four, six-seat tables in a restaurant. Packages of two, four, six tickets to events. Things like that.”

But the Hoyers are no longer a family of five, and “never will the world feel the way it does now that we are a family of four,” Hoyer said.

“When Luke died, something was lost in me,” he said. “And I’ll never, ever get over that feeling.”

Patricia Oliver is comforted as a witness testifies to her son's fatal injuries during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale , Florida, on August 1, 2022.

‘I’ll never get over it’

The testimony of the parents of the 14 slain students focuses not only on who their children are, but also on who they will never be – a never-ending catalog of things that have yet to be cleared. and did not say.

Nicholas Dworet, the high school swim team captain, had just received a scholarship to the University of Indianapolis at the time of his murder, his mother, Annika Dworet, testified Tuesday. He wants to study finance and moves to Boston with his girlfriend.

“Nick has big goals – bigger than most of us dare to dream,” she says. Next to his bed, he stuck a note that read, “I want to be a Swedish Olympic athlete and come to Tokyo 2020 to compete for my country. I will give everything I have in my life. body and mind to achieve his goals. has set.”

“Now,” said Annika Dworet, “we will never know if he will achieve his goal of going to the Olympics.”

Linda Beigel Schulman holds a photo of her son, Scott Beigel, before releasing a victim impact statement.

Jennifer Guttenberg, 14-year-old Jaime’s mother, told the court that watching her daughter’s friends and classmates grow up and achieve things Jaime never would have been “extremely difficult”. .

Family get-togethers and the holidays are also tough, when the table is empty and there’s no Jaime to keep “everyone upbeat and smiling.”

“There was togetherness, but no celebration,” Guttenberg said. “There was a deafening silence between everyone, because they didn’t want to bring Jaime’s name to hurt, but they didn’t want to forget her either.”

The past four years have been equally traumatic for Linda Beigel Schulman, who told the court on Monday that it had been 1,630 days since she spoke to her son Scott Beigel, a geography teacher. was killed as he guides students to safety in his classroom.

“I’ll never get over it. I’ll never get over it,” she said Monday. “My life will never, never be the same.”

‘Our lives fell apart’

Cruz had no apparent reaction Monday to any claims of victim impact, though one of his defense attorneys wiped a tear, and at least two members of So does the jury.

“It’s been four years and four months since he was taken from us, his friends and family,” Patricia Oliver said of her son, who was 17 when he was killed. “We miss him more than words can say and love him dearly,” she said, adding, “Our lives were shattered and changed forever.”

Joaquin’s older sister, Andrea Ghersi, says her 6-foot-1-year-old brother is “active, vibrant, loud, confident, strong, empathetic, understanding, intelligent, passionate, outgoing, fun fresh, life-loving, competitive, rebellious, funny, loyal, and constantly speaking out when he feels something isn’t right.”

Victoria Gonzalez, who is known as Joaquin Oliver's girlfriend but said they call themselves

Victoria Gonzalez also came in third. Gonzalez told the court on the day of the shooting she became Joaquin’s girlfriend, but they called each other “soulmates,” and she described him as “personified magic, love personified”. His name, she said, was “engraved in my soul.”

Kelly Petty, the mother of victim Alaina Petty, described the 14-year-old as a “very loving person”.

“She loves her friends, she loves her family and most importantly, she loves God,” Kelly Petty said of her daughter. “I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to watch her become the wonderful young woman she has turned into.”

Alain’s sister Meghan echoed that sentiment, telling the court, “I would love to see her grow up. She will be a blessing to the world.”

CNN’s Carlos Suarez and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.

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