The special needs son of an athletics director who was shot dead during the Parkland school massacre gave a heartbreaking testimony – telling jurors how he misses his dad.
Corey Hixon’s father Christopher, who worked as an athletics director, was killed by Nikolas Cruz during the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018.
While on the stand at the sentencing trial, Corey, 26, was asked by the prosecutor if there was anything he wanted to say about his dead father.
Nervously, he responded ‘yeah’ before looking at his mother Debra Hixon and simply stating: ‘I miss him.’
Corey Hixon told the sentencing trial ‘I miss him’ when speaking about his murdered father Christopher, who was shot dead by Cruz in the Parkland massacre
The man, who has a developmental disability, was comforted by his mother, widow Debra Hixon
Christopher Hixon, 49, was a US Navy veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and was one of the 17 people shot dead at the high school. A picture of Christopher is held up by his grieving wife Debra
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz (center) stands with members of his defense team during the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale
The man, who has a developmental disability called Kabuki Syndrome, then leaned to his mother and sobbed – before telling jurors about his favorite memory with his father.
He said: ‘It was Saturday, we ran to Denny Donuts and walked back.’
Attorneys in the courtroom were seen dabbing their eyes, while Cruz kept his head in his hands and looked down when Corey spoke – as he has for much of the trial.
Christopher Hixon, 49, was a US Navy veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and was one of the 17 people shot dead at the high school.
He was a trained military police officer and was fatally shot while running towards Cruz.
His widowed wife Debra also told the trial that his death created a void in the family’s lives which could never be filled.
She said: ‘His loss has left us broken. We have a void in our lives that will never be filled. He was an extraordinary man living an ordinary life.’
In 2019, Corey Hixon crossed the finish line and the inaugural Chris Hixon Memorial 5k Run on Hollywood Beach, set up in memory of his father. Funds raised at the event supported the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship foundation.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder; the trial is only to determine if he is sentenced to death or life without parole.
The state’s prosecution team is now set to present evidence to seek the death penalty for Parkland school shooter Cruz after he slaughtered 14 children and three adults.
Nikolas Cruz tells the judge he can see and hear a witness who is giving his victim impact statement via video link during the sentencing trial
Widow Debra told the trial that her husband’s death caused a void in the family’s lives which could never be filled
Earlier during the trial, the jury were shown graphic images of victims and a blood-soaked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In most states, evidence consisting of photos and video is only displayed at trial, and most killers either die during or immediately after their attacks, never making it to court.
This has made the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz for his 2018 murder of 17 people unusual.
In an extremely rare visit to the sealed-off crime scene, jurors in the sentencing trial of Cruz toured the still blood-spattered rooms of a three-story building at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday.
The building has been sealed off since the shooting, and the sight was deeply unsettling: Large pools of dried blood still stained classroom floors.
Windows in classroom doors are shot out, with shards of glass littering the floor. Rotted Valentine’s Day flowers, deflated balloons and other gifts are strewn about. Only the bodies and personal belongings such as backpacks have been removed.
Court deputies exit vans that transported jurors to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland during the penalty phase in the trial of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, who previously plead guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder
A sign reading ‘1240 west facing window’ and five bullet holes can be seen in a third floor window of the building, which has remained sealed since the massacre on February 14, 2018
A lock of dark hair rested on the floor where one of the victims’ bodies once lay. A single black rubber shoe was in a hallway. Browned rose petals were strewn across a hallway where six people died.
And still hanging on the wall of a second-floor hallway was a quote from James Dean: ‘Dream as if you´ll live forever, live as if you´ll die today.’
The visit to the murder scene capped off the arguments from the prosecution, which rested its case on Thursday afternoon after 12 days of emotional testimony, which moved the killer’s own attorney to tears earlier this week.
The seven-man, five-woman jury and 10 alternates were bused under heavy security 30 miles from the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale to the suburban school, where classes don’t resume until later this month.
Cruz waived his right to go with them. Journalists were being escorted into the site after the jury left, for the first public look. They were allowed to carry paper and pen but no cameras.
Prosecutors, who are winding up their case, hope the visit will help prove that the former Stoneman Douglas student’s actions were cold, calculated, heinous and cruel; created a great risk of death to many people and ‘interfered with a government function’ – all aggravating factors under Florida’s capital punishment law.