A Florida jury recommends life in prison for the gunman who killed 17 people at a Parkland school in 2018.
Although prosecutors called for his execution, arguing that the deadly attack was callous and well-planned, the jury could not unanimously agree that he should be sentenced to death.
Relatives of some victims shook their heads in court as the jury rejected calls from prosecutors.
Following the decision to serve a life sentence, Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed, said: “We are very disappointed by today’s outcome.
“This should be the death penalty, 100%. On February 14, 2018, 17 people were brutally killed. I sent my daughter to school and she was shot 8 times.
“I’m very disappointed and frustrated with this result. I can’t understand it. I just don’t understand it.”
Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty to murder with intent at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Expelled student kills 14 students and 3 staff with semi-automatic assault rifle at 18 One of the worst school shootings in America.
After three months of testimony and debates by lawyers, 12 jurors reached their recommendations after two days of seven-hour deliberations.
In Florida, the death penalty can only be imposed if jurors unanimously recommend Cruz be executed.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally deliver her sentencing at a later date.
Cruz has said he chose Valentine’s Day so that Stoneman Douglas students would never be able to celebrate it again.
During the three-month sentencing trial, the prosecution argued that Cruz’s crimes were both premeditated, heinous and cruel — details in the standard for death sentences under Florida law.
His defense team acknowledged the gravity of his crimes but asked jurors to consider mitigating factors, including lifelong mental health disorders caused by his birth mother’s substance abuse during pregnancy.
Cruz apologized for his crimes and asked for a life sentence without parole in order to dedicate his life to helping others.
Sentencing procedures included testimony from shooting survivors, as well as cellphone footage of students calling for help or whispering as they took cover during the attack.
Attorney General Mike Satz focused on Cruz’s eight-month plan and the seven minutes he spent wandering the school hall, firing his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle 140 times before escaping.
Cruz’s lead attorney, Melissa McNeill, and her team did not question the horror of his actions, focusing instead on their belief that his biological mother drank heavily during pregnancy causing him to suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Their experts said he had been having disturbing and sometimes violent behaviour from the age of two and was misdiagnosed with ADHD, meaning he was never treated properly.
Mr. Satz and his team believe Cruz did not suffer from fetal alcohol damage, but has antisocial personality disorder.
Their witnesses said Cruz faked brain damage during the test and was able to control his behavior, but he chose not to.
Prosecutors also played several videos of Cruz discussing the crime with their mental health experts, in which he talked about his plans and motives.
During cross-examination, the defense alleges that Cruz was sexually harassed and raped by a 12-year-old neighbor when he was nine.
The massacre has led to renewed calls for stronger gun control in the US, gaining further support this year after 19 children and 2 teachers were shot dead A school in Uwald, Texas and another shot A supermarket in Buffalo, New Yorkresulting in 10 deaths.