NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! Read this article. Parents who lost their children in the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead gave devastating testimony to the jury on the third day of Nikolas Cruz’s sentencing trial in Florida.
When Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, 14 students died, including Gina Montalto, 14, a student of Jennifer and Tony Montalto’s. Jennifer and Tony held back tears as they spoke about Gina.
As her husband sat next to her in the witness box at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Jennifer said, wiping tears from her eyes, “She liked books so much, she loved how they felt, and she once told me she wanted to live in a library.”
Jennifer noted that Gina was a Girl Scout, a wonderful artist, and a voracious Harry Potter reader, but most importantly, she was a sister and a daughter.
At the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz, Jennifer Montalto holds a photo of her daughter, Gina, before delivering her victim impact statement. (AP, Pool) Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel
The distraught mother told the jury, “For the rest of our lives, I will live with the unfathomable grief and pain that comes with knowing there is an empty seat at our table. We’ll keep looking at our front door and hoping Gina will come through.
According to Tony, he donned the identical outfits on Wednesday as when he accompanied Gina to their final father-daughter dance. Anthony, Gina’s younger brother, who lives in the aftermath of the catastrophe, he claimed, has been severely hit by her murder.
Cruz, seated at the defense table, showed no sign of emotion as Tony told the jury, “Now there’s a deafening silence only broken by the deep sighs and soft sobbing that accompany what used to be happy memories of my children playing, making breakfast together on Mother’s Day, or preparing holiday meals with me.”
Before delivering his victim impact statement during the sentencing phase of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz’s trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Max Schachter, standing by his side with his son Ryan, holds a picture of his other son, Alex. (AP, Pool) Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel
The father of 14-year-old Alex Schachter, who passed away at his desk in English class, Max Schachter, struggled to talk while sobbing as he thought about his son.
In addition to playing the trombone and loving the New England Patriots and movies, Alex is survived by two brothers and a sister.
Every single day, Schachter remarked, “I wish that this was a nightmare that I could just wake up from.” “My family should be reunited. I want to see my dear Alex again.”
Nikolas Cruz, the shooter at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is seated at the defense table during his sentencing hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. (AP, Pool, File, Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
The judge and the attorneys talked about the specifics of an upcoming trip to the Stoneman Douglas building, which has been preserved as a crime scene ever since the shooting, before the jury was summoned to the courtroom.
The visit won’t be shown live. In October, Cruz entered a plea of guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder. Whether he receives a death or life sentence will depend on the outcome of the punishment trial.
Veteran journalist Rebecca Rosenberg has written books with a focus on crime and criminal justice. Send hints through email to @ReRosenberg.