Parkland school shooting verdict: Count 14 in penalty phase is Cara Loughran

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer announced on Oct. 13 that a divided jury recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole as punishment for the Parkland school shooter on count 14 of first-degree murder.

Count 14 of 17 in the penalty phase is for the murder of Cara Loughran who Nikolas Cruz killed on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to Scherer.

Cara,14, was in the school’s 1200 building, on the third floor, when Cruz shot her three times, according to Chief Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz.

Cara died lying on the floor in the doorway of classroom 1249, records show. Teacher Ernest Rospierski testified he had left his keys inside room 1249 and the door had locked behind him.

Dr. Craig Mallak, a forensic pathologist with the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, performed her autopsy. He said she suffered wounds to the upper back and upper chest.

Cara would have celebrated her 15th birthday on Feb. 21, records show. The honors student was also dedicated to perfecting her Irish dancing and gymnastics.

Interactive graphic: Understanding the choices jurors made on the verdict form

Videos of court testimony related to Cara’s case

A court representative reads her family’s victim impact statement

Dr. Craig Mallak testifies

Teacher Ernest Rospierski testifies

Ernest Rospierski’s tone in court during his testimony in court overshadowed his heroism on Feb. 14, 2018, while on the 1200 building’s third floor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Interactive graphic on the penalty phase

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.