DeSantis joins Parkland parents outraged over life in prison verdict for confessed killer

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for change to Florida’s death penalty law.

PARKLAND, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for change to Florida’s death penalty law.

“The only appropriate punishment is capital punishment,” DeSantis said.

Parkland families were outraged last week after a jury spared the confessed school shooter’s life, sending shockwaves across the country.

“I don’t know how those jurors are going to live with themselves,” said Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the shooting. “I don’t know how they didn’t have a full, long debate about the evidence in this case.”

A majority of the jurors thought the death penalty was warranted. Three of them said life, and of those three, other jurors said one of them could not sentence someone she considered to be mentally ill to death.

Legal expert and former Miami-Dade prosecutor Gail Levine said it comes down to jurors understanding the law and finding a difference between mentally ill and mental disorder, personality traits.

“Legally, crazy is when you don’t know what you were doing was wrong. He knew what he was doing was wrong,” she said.

It’s one reason many say the law, which requires a unanimous jury to recommend death, should be changed back to majority rules.

And while it’s too late for the state in the case of the Parkland shooting, legal experts say federal authorities can technically try Cruz again, and some of the parents are for it.

“The hard part was hearing it the first time, hearing how my daughter was brutally murdered by this savage,” said Montalto. “Any opportunity to have this mass murderer punished to the full extent of the law, whether it be state, federal, local, whatever there happens to be, I will support it.”

The judge will still hear from the families in November before issuing a final sentence, but she cannot upgrade the punishment and sentence Cruz to death.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.