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USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

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The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

'Hollywood Ripper' sentenced to death in US

Michael Gargiulo
A man known as the "Hollywood Ripper" was sentenced to death Friday for the gruesome killings of two women in their homes in the early 2000s.

Michael Gargiulo, 45, was convicted in 2019 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Among his victims was 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was found in her Hollywood home with 47 stab wounds in February 2001. 

On the night of her murder, Ellerin had been due to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, who testified at the trial.

The second murder victim was Maria Bruno, a 32-year-old mother of four and neighbor of Gargiulo who was attacked in her sleep in December 2005 and "quite literally butchered," prosecutors said.

"In this case, everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said Friday as he announced the sentence.

Prosecutor Dan Akemon said Gargiulo targeted women who lived near him and waited for the perfect opportunity to attack them at night in or near their homes in "totally planned killings."

Gargiulo again insisted he was innocent at Friday's sentencing session.

He was arrested in 2008 following an attack on a woman in her apartment in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles. She survived and testified at the trial.

Gargiulo also faces murder charges in Illinois stemming from an attack in 1993.

But Gargiulo will not be executed, at least not for now. 

California is famously liberal and Democratic and Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions in 2019.

Prior to that the death penalty was last carried out in California in 2006, when it was halted by a federal court order.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Staff, July 17, 2021


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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