Parkland School Shooter’s Own Attorney Breaks Down After Grieving Parents Testify

The attorney defending the Parkland school shooter was seen in tears after a victim's grieving parents testified.
Credit: REUTERS / Alamy
Nikolas Cruz, 23, faces trial for the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, which left 17 people dead and another 17 injured.

Cruz, then 19, was a former student at the school. He fled the scene but was taken into custody an hour later. He now faces either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

During the long-awaited trial, families of those killed in the attack took to the witness stand to talk about their grief. Gem Hoyer - who lost her 15-year-old son Luke in the shooting - said: "It’s excruciating agony. I am heartbroken. A piece of my heart is missing. My life and my family will never be the same," per CNN.

Her husband Tom Hoyer was equally devastated, saying: "We were a family unit of five always trying to fit into a world set up for even numbers," he said.
Nikolas Cruz. Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy
"Two-, four-, six-seat tables in a restaurant. Two-, four-, six-ticket packages to events. Things like that. When Luke died something went missing in me. And I'll never, never get over that feeling," he continued, adding: "I don’t know that I will ever find real peace."

Among the other parents to testify were Fred Guttenberg, who said he wasn't able to say goodbye to his 14-year-old daughter Jaime, and Ilan Alhadeff, who shared the big dreams his 14-year-old daughter Alyssa had never gotten the chance to fulfill.
Ilan Alhadeff testified. Credit: Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy
"Soon she'd go on to be a professional soccer player. She'd get her law degree, and maybe become one of the most successful business negotiation lawyers the world would see," Alhadeff said. "All those plans came to an end with Alyssa's murder."

Their heartbreaking testimonies moved many in the courtroom to tears. Cruz's own lawyers - who sat next to him for the duration of the trial - were seen breaking down crying. Assistant public defenders Tamara Curtis and attorney Nawal Najet Bashima wept openly, while chief assistant public defender Melissa McNeil wiped away tears.

Cruz pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder back in October.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. All jurors will have to agree to sentence him to death.

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