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PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – The Broward County prosecutor’s office has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the caste of confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz.

There were mixed emotions Tuesday among students but the wife of the athletic director who was killed protecting students is very clear about how she feels.

“I don’t think we still think it’s real, I still think he’s going to come walking through the door,” said Debbie Hixon.

Debbie Hixon, the widow of Chris Hixon, athletic director at Stoneman Douglas, says they had a passion for helping children, even becoming guardians for students who were struggling.

“I wish he had known when he was alive how much of an influence he had on so many people,” she said. “So it’s a great tribute to who he was and what he believed in.”

Hixon was a father and husband.

A veteran of the armed services who was twice deployed to the Persian Gulf, Hixon was a hero who died trying to save students.

“I don’t think anything less than the death penalty is acceptable in this case,” Debbie said.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cruz, but his public defender said on Tuesday that there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent that “the death penalty might be going too far.”

“I just don’t see how keeping him in jail and feeding him and making sure he has exercise and health, I just don’t see how that’s going to help society,” Debbie said.

Cruz’s attorney said he is ready to plead guilty in return for 34 consecutive life sentences.

Debbie Hixon says that’s unacceptable.

“I didn’t think I’d ever believe that, I’m a practicing Catholic and never ever in my wildest dreams thought that I would believe that,” she said. “I do struggle with how I feel but I feel strongly that there is some people just shouldn’t be here.”

Debbie Hixon, a teacher for 29 years, says she’s going to use her platform to speak on issues that can create change, including gun legislation and gun control.

“If we in our society are having a problem with a particular type of weapon that’s causing distruction for no reason, then why can’t we take a look at it?” she asked. “And maybe we don’t ban it, maybe we do something else. I’m open for a conversation. Maybe it’s the one positive thing that can come out of this really horrible tragedy that happened, that we can do something to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else again.”

Cruz is expected in court Wednesday morning for an arraignment.

His attorney told CBS4’s Silva Harapetian he expects to stand mute to the charges, in which case the judge will enter a not guilty plea on Cruz’s behalf.


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