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Fil-Am Parkland shooting victim's family chooses not to monitor trial

Lenn Almadin Thornhill | TFC News USA

Posted at Aug 09 2022 09:53 AM | Updated as of Aug 09 2022 11:08 AM

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Prosecutors from the state of Florida rested its case in the Nikolas Cruz sentencing trial after the jurors visited the Parkland school where a mass shooting took place in February 2018.

23-year-old Cruz already pleaded guilty to shooting 34 people, 17 of whom died, while the other 17 were injured.

Among those killed was 16-year-old Filipino American Carmen Schentrup. Her brother Robert Schentrup told ABS-CBN News that he is not watching or following the trial.

"My family is not watching it either. I am also not particularly curious about what is going on. I know that for myself and for my process of healing, I don’t see the trial really being a part of that. So it’s not something I am not really engaging with," he said.

The sentencing trial is for the jury to decide whether Cruz should get the death penalty or life in prison.

Schentrup, who now works with a youth-led program advocating gun violence prevention, does not believe that Cruz should be put to death.

"I do not believe that the answer to murdering someone... as a culture saying you murdered someone and act so heinous, that the only thing we can do is also murder you? For me, I don’t see how that connects. If murder is so bad, then why we as a state, as a society doing it," he argued.

"I don’t find him getting a life sentence particularly satisfying. What, for me, justice and accountability is fixing the systems that allowed this to happen so it cannot happen again."

However, his parents disagree. In a tweet, his mother April Schentrup said, "If police did their job that day the shooter would’ve been killed at MSD (Marjory Stoneman Douglas). Since they didn’t do what was needed then, let the court get it right this time. Carmen’s murderer deserves the death penalty."

For her son, a series of failures led to the tragedy.

"I see the gunman as a symptom of many broken systems or many things that failed him in his life that led him to this situation in which Parkland occurred. He was someone who needed severe help and never received it," he said.

While he's not monitoring the trial, he said he can't help but feel anxious, especially for his parents.  

"I am of course worried when the verdict comes on, how it will affect them. The kind of level of, how much of a stake this trial has in their healing from what happened, in their search for accountability and justice. And so when the trial is over, I hope that it leads them in that journey. Of course, I am fearful that it would move things backwards."

The sentencing trial, which began on July 18, is expected to last a few more weeks with the defense calling its own set of witnesses.