‘You deserve the death penalty’: Florida leaders decry life in prison sentence for Nikolas Cruz

Loved ones of Parkland shooting victims publicly denounced and expressed anger following the jury's recommendation for a life in prison sentence for Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 people on Valentine's Day in 2018.

Leaders across Florida, including Governor Ron DeSantis, also expressed frustration with the verdict.

"I think that if you have a death penalty at all, that is a case where you're massacring those students with premeditation and other disregard for basic humanity, you deserve the death penalty," he said during a press conference on an unrelated issue in Cape Coral.

DeSantis on Thursday also decried the lengthy legal process after the school massacre. 

"You know, they used to do this, he would have been executed in six months. He’s guilty, everybody knew that from the beginning. And yet it takes years and years in this legal system. That is not serving the interest of victims," DeSantis, a Harvard-educated lawyer, said.

Charlie Crist, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, also disagreed with the jury's decision. 

MORE: Jury in Parkland shooting penalty trial recommends life in prison for Nikolas Cruz

"There are crimes for which the only just penalty is death," Crist tweeted. "The Parkland families and community deserved that degree of justice. I will continue to pray for healing for the families and every person impacted by this tragedy."

Jared Moskowitz, who previously served as the director of Florida Division of Emergency Management and is now the Democratic nominee to represent Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He served in the state legislature immediately following the 2018 massacre.

"He should die 17 times!" he tweeted.

MORE: 'Stunned, devastated': Parents of Parkland victims react to shooter's life sentence

Gov. Rick Scott, who was the governor at the time of the mass shooting, also disagreed with the decision, saying "…many of us find it hard to understand how such brutal crimes could be met with anything but the most severe punishment allowed under our laws."

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who served on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission, addressed the verdict Thursday afternoon, blasting the jury's decision.

"Nothing that comes out of Broward County surprises me. If there's ever been anyone on the face of the Earth that deserved the death penalty, it was that evil, violent, murdering piece of trash that massacred those children," Judd said. "There's never been a more cold, calculated, premeditated murder than that, and if you can't get the death penalty for that in Broward County, that's not a safe county to live in."

Benjamin Thomas, the jury foreperson, told WFOR that three jurors ultimately voted against the death penalty, with one of them being a "hard no" on the decision and another two ultimately choosing to vote against it as well.

"It didn't go the way I would've liked or the way I voted but that's how the jury system works," Thomas said. "I didn't vote that way so I'm not happy with how it turned out, but everybody has the right to decide for themselves. It is a moral decision on their own; some of the jurors just felt that way."