The teen who killed 17 people in a shooting rampage last week at his former Florida high school deserves the death penalty, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Monday.
Rubio expressed his view on executing 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz in an interview with CBS4 Miami. But he also acknowledged it was a tough question to answer because of his larger concerns about the death penalty.
“I would imagine that most people would say that the answer to that is 'yes,'” Rubio said when asked whether Cruz should get the death penalty.
When asked what he personally thought, Rubio said, “Well look, that answer is yes.”
But he added: “It’s a tough thing to answer because I have concerns about the death penalty -- not in a case like this.
“I have concerns in the broader sense about how not everyone gets equal representation in death panels. But in this particular case it would be a hard to argue against the death penalty.”
Lawyers for Cruz may try to negotiate a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.
One member of the defense team, Howard Finkelstein, a public defender, has already said that Cruz doesn’t deserve the death penalty.
“There is no way anyone can minimize the tragedy of what took place,” Finkelstein said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s time to mourn; it’s time to figure out how to prevent future tragedies. He should spend the rest of his life in prison, but he does not deserve to die.”
Shari Tate, a prosecutor and head of the homicide unit at the Broward State Attorney’s Office, was quoted as saying that it was “too soon” to have a conversation about an appropriate punishment in Cruz’s case.