Esteban Santiago is severely mentally ill and remorseful for killing five people and injuring six others in the January 2017 mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale’s main airport, his defense team said Friday moments before he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
But federal prosecutors, who agreed the punishment was appropriate, said the 28-year-old military veteran may have contributed to his psychiatric problems by abusing hallucinogenic drugs — including the street drug Spice — after he returned from serving in the Iraq War.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, for this court to separate the evil in your acts from the evil in the man,” U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom told Santiago.
She sentenced him to five life terms plus 120 years in federal prison, with no chance he will ever be released.
Santiago spoke only to respond “yes” or “no” to the judge’s questions.
Several victims who spoke during the 90-minute court hearing told him he had senselessly robbed them of their loved ones. Survivors said he left them traumatized and fearful of leaving their homes and going into public places.
© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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