Gov. DeSantis vents anew over Parkland shooter life imprisonment verdict
A judge tells Ron DeSantis to dish the dirt on migrant flights.

Reports that prosecutors were 'pursuing some things' regarding the jury gave the Governor some hope, he said.

A juror complaint in the aftermath of the Parkland shooter’s trial is sparking calls for an investigation and, apparently, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ hope that the school shooter won’t live out the rest of his natural days in prison.

But despite the complaint, it seems the life sentence is likely to stick.

The trial ended with a jury verdict that the shooter will not be executed for killing 17 people, as he confessed to doing in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. Florida law requires jurors to unanimously agree to approve the death penalty. And there were three holdouts, according to what the jury foreman told CBS Miami. The specter that Cruz could live to old age produced near-unanimous shock and anger.

And, at Friday’s news conference, the Governor was among them.

“The state of Florida has executed people in our history who’ve committed really dastardly crimes, but crimes that didn’t reach this level of carnage, and yet somehow he’s going to be living off taxpayer expense for what, 50 years, 60 years,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Cape Coral. “His victims didn’t get that luxury to be able to live out those decades.”

“And, if you have something like capital punishment available in a case like that has got to be administered,” DeSantis said.

The Sun-Sentinel reported Friday morning that a juror reported a threat during deliberations. And an afternoon hearing into whether police can interview that juror has been scheduled.

Apparently, the Governor has questions.

“I know that the prosecutors are pursuing some things with the jury and I think that they should do that,” DeSantis said.

“Did you have jurors that were just never going to do this (approve of the death penalty) no matter what? That’s not the way this system is supposed to work. What was going on? There may have been something that went on. So I think whatever legal process they have and legal tools they have available, I think they should use it because I do think it was a miscarriage of justice.”

The state’s motion seems to indicate a crime against an individual juror, however.

“Juror X spoke to a support staff member (at the State Attorney’s Office) and informed the support staff member during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room,” the state’s motion reads.

That report comes in addition to another note written to Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who presided over the shooter’s trial. A juror wrote to her about the atmosphere during deliberations. Juror Denise Cunha told the judge that other jurors became angry when she made it clear she would not vote for Cruz to get the death penalty, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Sun Sentinel is reporting that Cunha is not the same person who called the State Attorney’s Office with reports of a threat from a fellow juror. 

Still, DeSantis said he was “thankful that it looks like the prosecutors may be pursuing.” But then the Yale Law School graduate added, “Look, I don’t know how those avenues are worked out.”

And it’s unlikely to change the outcome. As the Sun-Sentinel explained, “allegations of juror misconduct raised after trial cannot change the outcome when it’s in the defendant’s favor.”

The Governor’s real beef might be the way a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty law. At that time, Florida was one of three states that allowed a simple majority of jurors to recommend the death penalty, according to the New York Times.

The overall situation has DeSantis calling for a reevaluation anyway.

“We need to do some reforms to be better serving victims of crimes and the families of crime victims and not always bend over backwards to try to do everything we need to do for the perpetrators of crimes,” he said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


  • Elliott Offen

    October 14, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    “Did you just have some jurors who weren’t going to do this no matter what?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? Decision to give the death penalty isn’t like determining guilt or innocence. There are people who don’t believe in the death penalty under any circumstances…and many don’t believe in it for religious reasons. So if anything DeSantis is saying that people who don’t believe in the death penalty shouldn’t be on cases that might involve the death penalty.🤡 I personally feel that since our “criminal justice system” is such an inhumane wreck that the death penalty should be optional upon conviction for any crime with punishment longer than 12 years. Like, do you want to die or be subjected to this state for that long 😆

    • David in Shoreline

      October 14, 2022 at 5:42 pm

      Ridiculous argument. Death row inmates frequently exhaust all of their appeals knowing full well that if they are successful they will spend the rest of their life in prison. That suggests most (nearly all) inmates would prefer being subjected to the state over death.

      • Elliott Offen

        October 14, 2022 at 10:16 pm

        #1 I said that they should be given a choice. That’s not arguing that people WOULD choose to die instead.
        #2 What about the first part of my comment? Don’t have anything to say about that?😆

    • Roy Bliven

      October 15, 2022 at 5:15 am

      Perhaps to some people the death penalty is wrongful and I know the Bible states that “Thou shalt not kill!” However that person named Cruz did kill 17 people in that school without any remorse! Those young people did not have any choice to live or die, I am certain! Did the killer ask those children and adults if they wanted to live or die? I think NOT! Should Cruz remain in prison for 50 to 60 years at taxpayer’s expense? Not in my opinion but in the opinion of only one person on the jury! The laws should be changed to reflect that if the death penalty is not conclusive with all jury members then the judge should make the final decision in a case of mass murders!

  • Lynda

    October 14, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    Re: deSantis vents against “Life’; Wants “death penalty”

    States which inflict the “death penalty” say more about the attitudes of state voters than how “horrible” the crime is. There are too many situations where people are convicted and sentenced to death and then evidence is found that they are innocent. The “revenge” motive is very old in human history and found in many of the old “fundamentalist” religions. Most states in the USA have evolved beyond imposing death penalties, although some Federal crimes maintain that sentencing alternative.

    Increasingly other countries have abolished death penalties as alternatives to life sentences. The drugs to kill prisoners are hard to find and trained staff to administer the drugs correctly are nearly impossible to hire. Death penalties may be imposed in the name of the “state”, but a human being still must administer the killing drugs or in the case of a state death by shooting, pull the trigger.

    It is a mystery to me how some vigorous opponents of abortion like Texas gov. abbott and deSantis can continue to so strongly support death penalties. All too many prisoners put to death have been mentally ill without treatment, victims of racial and class bias, or unable to afford a proper defense with modern testing and investigations of witnesses. Mistakes in guilt are more easily reversed when life sentences are imposed than death penalties. deSantis’ preference for death penalties assumes no mistakes are made and that a death penalty is more cost effective than a life sentence. No unanswered questions of morality seem to have been a factor in deSantis’ making up his mind to prefer the death penalty to a life sentence which costs the state money.

    Given the dangerous conditions in most prisons in the USA, many people support life sentences as more punishing than death penalties. Prisoners should have time to reflect on the actions they took and the damage they did; Remorse followed by reformation seems to occur even in prisons which have no formal programs to encourage prisoners to reform.

    Florida’s criminal justice system needs to eliminate the death penalty even for horrible crimes.

    • Ron DeSantis is Pro Death

      October 14, 2022 at 4:34 pm

      I have to agree. The arbitrary nature of the death penalty seems to justify it’s abolition.

  • marylou

    October 14, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Sounds like the pro-death jurors retaliated by filing a complaint after their threats didn’t work on the pro-life jurors.

    There’s no reason that the pro-lifers would need to threaten the pro-deathers, since the pro-lifers didn’t need the pro-deathers’ unanimous agreement to accomplish their goal. The death squad needed the lifers’ votes to get what they had already decided they wanted before the trial even started.

    If DeSickness was sincere about doing anything for child crime victims and grieving families he could help prevent more of them, by demanding gun violence prevention laws and assault weapons bans. Desantis puts politics before children’s lives. VOTE FOR CRIST!

  • It's Complicated

    October 14, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    This punk received a reprieve from the death penalty from a couple of members of a ‘jury of peers.’
    After his conviction and sentencing to 957 years in prison, Jeffrey Dahmer lasted “two years, nine months and 11 days” in prison, before his peers snuffed him out.
    Vegas probably already has a line of betting going on about how long this punk lives in prison.

    • Joe Corsin

      October 14, 2022 at 10:19 pm

      So a criminal murdered people…and as a result of this verdict you hope that criminals murder someone?

  • Yrral

    October 14, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Desantis headed for a grand jury in Bexar County Texas , Google Desantis Side Chick Perla Huerta

    • marylou

      October 14, 2022 at 9:10 pm

      DOJ is planning to investigate desantis’ misuse of federal covid $$.

  • rustic

    October 15, 2022 at 9:13 am

    DeSatan is a hypocrite. He’s all pro life when it involves young girls being forced to bear children from the crime of rape. Yet, he wants to execute a mentally ill young man. Rona’s contempt for our jury system is sickening. I wish that he would just STFU. Loser Rona. Egomaniac Rona. Always talking smack so he can impress the MAGA maggots.

  • mark

    October 16, 2022 at 9:09 am

    My understanding that in the jury selection process, they are given the range of possible sentences and each person takes an oath that they can render anyone of those verdicts if the person is found guilty. If there is someone now saying they can’t give the death penalty, that means they lied during that process. If you can’t mete out the sentence, don’t get on the jury.

  • marylou

    October 16, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    All 12 jurors were willing to vote for death if aggravating factors outweighed mitigating factors.

    Based on the evidence presented, 1/4 of the jurors found that mitigating factors were not outweighed by aggravating factors. It’s likely that the three pro-life jurors actually considered the evidence, while the other nine were unwilling to vote for life no matter how much evidence they saw.

    If willingness to vote for life was asked prior to the trial, it’s a pretty good guess that the nine pro-death jurors lied.

  • TwoSocks

    October 17, 2022 at 7:42 am

    DeSantis is awesome! I agree that a majority vote for a death sentence is the correct action. I wish DeSantis would just run for president or be Trump’s running mate even though we would lose a great governor.

    • mark

      October 17, 2022 at 9:40 am

      DeSantis would make a great president and I hope he runs. Anyone would be better than the clown in there now destroying the country. The voir dire process of jury selection is supposed to screen out those who have beliefs that won’t allow them to full fill the duties of serving as a juror. They are read the choices of what the defendant can be given including life, death, etc and they all take an oath saying they can render that verdict . Some on this jury clearly lied under oath.

  • marylou

    October 17, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    Another tragic outcome of an UNWANTED PREGNANCY.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn