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Nikolas Cruz’s brother Zachary said on Thursday that his ‘thoughts are with his brother’s victims’ after he was spared the death penalty in a shock courtroom decision. 

Zachary, now 21, lives in Virginia with gay couple Richard Moore and Mike Donavan. 

Last week, they were arrested on charges that they exploited Zachary by offering him a job and taking him in to their home in 2018 when he was a teenager, after his brother became one of the most notorious mass murderers in US history. 

Police say that young Zachary had just received $400,000 from his late mother’s estate and had a ‘mental incapacity’ that the married men took advantage of. 

In a statement to DailyMail.com on Thursday through Moore, Zachary said he would have ‘much to say’ in coming days but that he did not wish to comment on the jury’s decision to spare his brother today. 

They voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty but because they were not unanimous, Nikolas will be spared execution. 

‘My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of my brother’s crimes today. I will have much to say in the coming days and weeks about the Broward State Attorney’s office, and the Broward School division. Today is not the day for that.

The jury voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty but because they were not unanimous, Nikolas will be spared execution

The jury voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty but because they were not unanimous, Nikolas will be spared execution

‘Today is a day for the victims to find a peace in knowing that this legal process is finally over. Today is a day for the families to have their voices heard,’ he said. 

Richard, however, was more vocal. 

‘Today’s verdict brings to an end this long public life-or-death sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz. Our family sends out prayers to all the victims and their families.

‘Our country has a real issue with mental illness, and we must apply all available resources and efforts to address and prevent the next Parkland.

‘I am grateful that this jury understood mental health issues better than Broward County Schools did.

‘My focus and the focus of our family is to be here for Zach as he moves out of the shadows of his brother’s trial.

Cruz with his legal guardians, Richard Moore and Mike Donavan. The married couple took him in in 2018 when he was a teenager. They were arrested last week on suspicion of fraud. Police say they exploited his mental incapacity

Cruz with his legal guardians, Richard Moore and Mike Donavan. The married couple took him in in 2018 when he was a teenager. They were arrested last week on suspicion of fraud. Police say they exploited his mental incapacity 

Moore and Donavan deny that they exploited Zach or his 'mental incapacity' and say they have only ever cared for him. They were arrested on fraud charges last week

Moore and Donavan deny that they exploited Zach or his ‘mental incapacity’ and say they have only ever cared for him. They were arrested on fraud charges last week 

Police say the couple took advantage of Zachary's 'mental incapacity'. The couple insist he is mentally capable and living with them under his own free will

Police say the couple took advantage of Zachary’s ‘mental incapacity’. The couple insist he is mentally capable and living with them under his own free will 

‘I do not believe that I could ever be as strong of a person as Zachary Cruz is,’ he said. 

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Moore attended the trial with Zachary, grinning in the public gallery as he watched him give testimony. 

They have repeatedly insisted that they do not wish him any harm, and that they only want to protect him from his brother’s critics. 

The jury’s verdict shocked and outraged others, namely the victims’ families and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Disgust: The families of Cruz's victims were sickened by the jury's decision to spare him. Above, Anne Ramsay and Michelle Thomas

Disgust: The families of Cruz’s victims were sickened by the jury’s decision to spare him. Above, Anne Ramsay and Michelle Thomas 

Tony Montalto holds back tears at a press conference after the verdict was returned

Tony Montalto holds back tears at a press conference after the verdict was returned 

He said it was the only appropriate sentence for a crime of this magnitude. 

Others are asking why Florida still has the death penalty if it can’t be applied in the most brutal mass murders. 

In order for Cruz to have been sentenced to death, the jury had to decide unanimously that he should be executed. 

It is the result of the law in Florida. 

No one has been executed in the state since 2019. The last person was a serial killer who shot dead five men. 

As the jury foreman read out the verdict today, the families of some of the victims stormed out of court, cried and shook their heads in disbelief. 

The judge is yet to formally sentence Cruz. Before she does, victims will be given a chance to oppose the decision. 

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