Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the murder of seventeen people and the attempted murder of 17 others in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida -- the deadliest shooting at a U.S. high school ever.
Standing hunched over, he entered one guilty plea at a time – 34 in all – as the judge read the names of his victims and the charges in a Fort Lauderdale courthouse…
Cruz then removed his mask and in rambling remarks apologized.
CRUZ: "I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day. And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others ... I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can't live with myself sometimes."
Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the rampage… when he used an AR-15 rifle - that he legally purchased from a licensed gun dealer-- to terrorize his former classmates and teachers.
The Valentine’s Day shooting sparked a massive youth-led movement against gun violence across the U.S.
As a prosecutor read an account of the incident – which was described as "cold, calculated and premeditated"- relatives and friends of the victims wiped tears from their eyes.
The case now goes to the penalty phase…
Gena and Tom Hoyer, who lost their son, Luke, say they want the jury to impose the death penalty.
GENA HOYER, MOTHER OF VICTIM LUKE HOYER: “The person that you saw in there today chose to take his life and he does not deserve life in prison. Life in prison is a life and he deserves nothing more than the death penalty."
TOM HOYER, FATHER OF VICTIM LUKE HOYER: “I'm just looking for justice here and justice for us is we want him dead. We want him forgotten. I don't ever want to hear this kid's name again you know after all this is over."
In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence or life in prison.
Jury selection for the penalty phase in the case is set to begin on January 4th.
Separately, families of the victims have reportedly reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County school district, resolving dozens of lawsuits filed by families against the district for negligence in the wake of the shooting.