10:32 AM PT -- Nikolas Cruz's brother, Zachary, just released a statement, saying, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of my brother’s crimes. In the coming days and weeks, I will have much to say about the Broward State Attorney’s office and that Broward School division. Today is not the day for that. Today is a day for the victims to find peace in knowing that this legal process is finally over."
He continues, "My brother was sentenced to life in prison today. While many people wanted death, I know my brother will be forced to live with what he did for what may be a very long time. In the long run, that may be a fate worse than death, and it is the fate he deserves for committing heinous crimes against innocent people.”
The jury has recommended life in prison forNikolas Cruz, the gunman who murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 ... and the judge is delaying sentencing until November 1.
In an emotional sentencing hearing Thursday the judge read the jury's verdict of life without parole after they were unable to unanimously decide on the death penalty.
The jury of 7 men and 5 women discussed the 24-year-old's fate Wednesday and came back with their sentence Thursday morning in a Fort Lauderdale courthouse.
Family members of Cruz's 17 victims were very obviously angry sitting inside the courtroom -- many shaking their heads and crying in disbelief. Cruz sat expressionless.
As for the delay, the judge agreed to give surviving victims a chance to be heard before the judge issues the sentence.
Cruz pled guilty last year to 34 counts -- 17 charges of murder and 17 charges of attempted murder.
In the sentencing phase, multiple witnesses took the stand to describe the pain and horror they endured as a result of the massacre. There were cell phone videos jurors saw ... showing students hiding in fear as gunshots rang out.
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Attorneys for Cruz highlighted his mental health struggles, and they called witnesses who testified his illness was triggered by his biological mother's drug use while she was pregnant.
During his courtroom appearance, he went on a bizarre rant and begged the families of the victims to give him a second chance ... claiming he wanted to be spared so he could help others.