Victim’s son delivers heartbreaking statement as prosecution rests in Parkland shooter death penalty trial

The prosecution has rested its case in the penalty phase of the trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz faces life imprisonment or the death penalty for 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder after rampaging through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on 14 February 2018. Cruz pleaded guilty to all charges.

Many of those injured by Cruz when he opened fire had earlier appeared as witnesses to describe the horrors of that day, but in the final phase of the prosecution’s case, the jury heard victim impact statements from family members of those who died that day.

In one of many heartbreaking moments, Corey, son of Chris Hixon — the school’s athletic director and wrestling coach who died trying to save students — appeared alongside his mother to tell the jury about his father.

After being asked who his father was, Corey, who has special needs, shyly leaned toward his mother when asked what he would like to tell the jury about his dad.

Debbi Hixon reassured her son, and through tears, he said loudly: “I miss him,” before hugging his mother.

Asked to tell the jury if he had another story about donuts, with whispered encouragement from his mother, he said: “Every Saturday we ran to Dunkin’ Donuts and walked back.”

Many in the courtroom, from family members of victims to court staff, and even members of the defence team could be seen wiping away tears after the young man left the witness box.

Mr Hixon was one of many family members or friends who struggled as they remembered their children, siblings, and spouses, some holding up photos while wiping away tears.

As he has many times before in the weeks-long trial, Cruz buried his face in his hands.

Earlier in the day, the jury had been taken to see the site of the shooting, the 1200 building on the school campus, which stands as it was the day of the tragedy, with only the victims and their personal effects removed. The sealed building still has blood on the floors and bullet holes in the walls.

The jury will now take a break until 22 August and next week the court will be dark to allow attorneys to prepare for the remainder of the trial.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Parkland, Corey Hixon bounded up to Joe Biden when he came to meet the families of the victims. He gave the then-former vice president a big hug.

Mr Biden kissed him on the head, thanked him for hugging him, and asked him if he was OK.

He shook his head and buried his face in Mr Biden’s jacket, as the former vice president, who had left office just a year before, held him reassuringly.

Footage of the moment was tweeted out by former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary in support of Mr Biden’s 2020 presidential candidacy.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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