Parents of the Parkland shooting victims describe their stolen futures in shooter's death penalty trial

Nikolas Cruz had no visible reaction to the victim impact statements, though one of his defense attorneys was seen wiping away tears.

(CNN)Alyssa Alhadeff would be in her second year of college if she hadn't been murdered in a 2018 mass shooting at her Parkland, Florida, high school -- and her father would be looking forward to watching her achieve her dreams.

"Soon she'd go on to be a professional soccer player. She'd get her law degree, and maybe become one of the most successful business negotiation lawyers the world would see," Ilan Alhadeff told a Broward County courtroom Tuesday, testifying in the death penalty trial of his daughter's killer.
"She was supposed to get married, and I was going to have my father-daughter dance," he said, his voice breaking. "She would have had a beautiful family, four kids, live in a gorgeous house -- a beach house on the side.
      "All those plans came to an end with Alyssa's murder," he said.
        Families of the 17 people killed in the Parkland school shooting continued taking the stand Tuesday, offering victim impact statements to illustrate the toll the murders have taken as a jury decides whether to sentence the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to death.
          The hearing was emotional, as parents of some of the 14 students killed described not only who their children were, but who they will never get to become -- a catalog of things left undone and unsaid.
          Cruz had no visible reaction to the victim impact statements Tuesday, though one of the defense attorneys sitting next to him was seen wiping away tears.
          Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, and this phase of his criminal trial aims to determine his sentence: Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, while Cruz's defense attorneys are asking the jury for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
          To recommend a death sentence, jurors must be unanimous. If they do so, the judge could choose to follow the recommendation or sentence Cruz to life instead.
          To make their decision, jurors will hear prosecutors and defense attorneys argue aggravating factors and mitigating circumstances -- reasons Cruz should or should not be executed. Victim impact statements add another layer, giving the families and friends of the victims their own day in court, though the judge told the jury the statements are not meant to be weighed as aggravating factors.
          Gena Hoyer holds her daughter, Abby, as Tom Hoyer testifies about their son Luke, who was killed in the Parkland shooting.
          "We were a family unit of five always trying to fit into a world set up for even numbers," said Tom Hoyer, whose 15-year-old son Luke -- the youngest of three -- was killed. "Two-, four-, six-seat tables in a restaurant. Two-, four-, six-ticket packages to events. Things like that."
          But the Hoyers are no longer a family of five, and "never again will the world feel right, now that we're a family of four," Hoyer said.
          "When Luke died something went missing in me," he said. "And I'll never, never get over that feeling."
          Patricia Oliver is comforted as a witness testifies to her son's fatal injuries during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz.

          'I will never get over it'

          Nicholas Dworet, captain of the high school's swim team, had just received a scholarship to the University of Indianapolis at the time he was killed, his mother, Annika Dworet, testified Tuesday. He wanted to study finance and move to Boston with his girlfriend.
          "Nick had big goals -- bigger than most of us dare to dream of," she said. Next to his bed, he'd taped a note which read, "I want to become a Swedish Olympian and go to Tokyo 2020 to compete for my country. I will give all I have in my body and my mind to achieve the goals I have set."
          "Now," Annika Dworet said, "we will never know if he would have reached his goal to go to the Olympics."
          Family members of Parkland victim Peter Wang are seen in the gallery during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz.
          Jennifer Guttenberg, mother of 14-year-old Jaime, told the court watching her daughter's friends and classmates grow up and achieve things Jaime never will is "excruciatingly difficult."
          Family get-togethers and holidays are hard, too, with one less seat at the table and no Jaime to keep "everyone upbeat and laughing."
          "There is togetherness, but there is no celebrating," Guttenberg said. "There is a deafening silence amongst everyone, as they don't want to bring up Jaime's name to cause pain, but don't want to forget her, either."
          The last four years have been no less painful for Linda Beigel Schulman, who told the court Monday it had been 1,630 days since she spoke to her son Scott Beigel, a geography teacher killed as he ushered students to safety in his classroom.
          "I will never get over it. I will never get past it," she said Monday. "My life will never, ever be the same."
          Linda Beigel Schulman holds a photo of her son, Scott Beigel, before giving her victim impact statement.