(NewsNation Now) — The man accused of killing 14 students and three staff members at a Parkland, Florida, high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said Friday, bringing some closure to a South Florida community more than three years after an attack that sparked a nationwide movement for gun control.
The guilty plea would set up a penalty phase where Nikolas Cruz, 23, would be fighting against the death penalty and life without parole.
Chris Hixon was one of the faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was killed on that day. His widow, Debbi, said it was a challenging day after hearing the news Cruz planned to plead guilty.
“Today has been very difficult. We’ve kind of hovered in a holding pattern for so long, and then all of a sudden, all of these things are happening. And we keep having to look at his picture and see video of him,” she said. “So that makes today very, very difficult.”
While it was an emotional day, Debbi Hixon said she is looking forward to getting closure for herself and the rest of the victims.
“I personally feel relief that we are moving forward, that it looks like we’re going to stop being in a holding pattern, and that we can start to have some closure for this part so we can continue moving forward with our grief,” she said.
Despite her grief, Hixon remembers her husband as a hero for attempting to stop Cruz’s rampage.
“It was really no surprise to us when we found out what happened … that he had run in — with no regard at all for his own life — just trying to stop the shooter,” she said.
As for Cruz being eligible for the death penalty, she believes he needs to be brought to justice.
“He cannot offer anything positive to society,” she said. “And I really think that the only justice here is the death penalty.”
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