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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Penalty trial for Parkland school shooter begins in Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ( Associated Press) — The penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nicolas Cruz began Monday, the deadliest US mass shooting to go before a jury.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to 17 counts of first-degree murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the deaths of 14 students and three staff members, and is only fighting his sentence. The jurors must decide whether he receives death or life without parole.

The seven-man, five-female panel, supported by 10 options, will hear from Chief Prosecutor Mike Saitz, who is expected to highlight Cruz’s brutality as he chased the three-story classroom building, carrying his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Firing from Down hallways and into classrooms. Cruz would sometimes run back to the wounded victims and kill them with a second shot.

Read more: Shocking police inaction in Uvalde due to ‘systemic failures’, report finds

About 50 family members of the victims were sitting together in the courtroom in the rope-off section. It was unclear whether anyone other than his defense attorneys was there to support Cruz. The trial for the former Stoneman Douglas student, which was expected to last about four months, was due to begin in 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and legal battles.

Defense lawyers would not say when they would make their opening statements: at the beginning of the trial or when they would begin presenting their case from now on. The latter tactic would be rare and risky because it would give prosecutors the only chance to say so, before jurors scrutinize the grim evidence and hear heart-wrenching testimony from survivors and victims’ parents and spouses.

If lead defender Melissa McNeill makes her statement, she will emphasize that Cruz is a young adult with lifelong emotional and psychological problems who reportedly suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome and abuse. The goal would be to placate the feelings of jurors during the trial of the prosecution’s case, leaving them more open to considering the defense’s arguments later.

The February 14, 2018 Parkland shooting is the deadliest to reach trial in US history. Nine other gunmen, who killed at least 17 people, either committed suicide or were killed by police bullets, during or shortly after their shootings. A suspect in the 2019 murder of 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, awaits trial.

After the opening, which is limited to every 90 minutes, the first witnesses of the prosecutors will be called. He did not say who that would be.

This is the first death penalty trial for Circuit Judge Elizabeth Sherer. When jurors finally find a case this fall, they will vote 17 times for each victim on whether to recommend the death penalty.

Every vote must be unanimous; A unanimous vote for either of the victims means that Cruz’s sentence would be life imprisonment for that person. The jurors are told that in order to vote in favor of the death penalty, the dire circumstances the prosecution has presented for the victim must “exceed” the mitigating factors presented by the defense in its decision.

Regardless of the evidence, any juror can graciously vote for life in prison. During jury selection, the panelists said under oath that they were able to vote for any sentencing.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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