Victims' Families Leave Cruz's Lawyers in Tears

He was 'love personified,' Victoria Gonzalez said of boyfriend Joaquin Oliver
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2022 8:23 AM CDT
Parkland Shooting: Victims' Families Leave Cruz's Lawyers in Tears
Theresa Robinovitz cries after reading her victim impact statement during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday.   (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – Attorneys representing Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz were moved to tears Tuesday as parents described the holes left in their lives by the loss of their children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Assistant Public Defenders Tamara Curtis and Nawal Najet Bashiman both "had to remove their face masks to clean their tears" in Florida's Broward County court, while Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeil "dabbed her eyes with a tissue," reports WPLG. In a victim impact statement, Gena Hoyer described the "excruciating agony" of losing her 15-year-old son Luke, whose bedroom remains untouched since Feb. 14, 2018.

"A piece of my heart is missing. My life and my family will never be the same," said a tearful Hoyer, who added she becomes physically ill when she moves anything in Luke's room. "I don't know that I will ever find real peace," added Luke's father, Tom Hoyer. "When Luke died something went missing in me and I'll never, never get over that feeling." Ilan Alhadeff said his 14-year-old daughter Alyssa should’ve gone on to become a professional soccer player, get a law degree, and get married. "I was going to have my father-daughter dance," he said, his voice cracking, per CNN. Speaking Monday, Meghan Petty said it hurt knowing her 14-year-old sister Alaina never had her first kiss or went to prom, per the Miami Herald.

Victoria Gonzalez said she became Joaquin Oliver's girlfriend on that Valentine's Day, the same day the 17-year-old was fatally shot at close range. He was "magic personified, love personified," and his name is "etched into the depth of my soul," she said. Cruz had no visible reaction, per CNN. The defense had requested that the jury not hear victim impact statements, which would "infect the proceedings with unfairness so as to deny Mr. Cruz due process." That request was denied, as was another asking that there be only "one statement per victim" to be read by a "neutral party." Jurors will decide if Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, should get the death penalty. (Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)

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