Cruz’s lawyers had claimed his birth mother’s excessive drinking and drug use during pregnancy left him with “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder” that ultimately led him to carry out the school shooting, one of the deadliest in U.S. history. For each of the 17 counts, the jurors found existence of all aggravating factors — including that the murders were carried out in a “cold, calculated and premeditated” manner — but that they did not outweigh mitigating circumstances established by the defense.
The State Department considers them both “wrongfully detained” and is treating them as hostages. Under growing pressure to act, the Biden administration offered in June to trade Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a long federal prison sentence, for Griner and Whelan. Russia has not publicly responded.