Parkland school shooting latest: Jury hears opening statements in Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty trial

Parkland school shooting latest: Jury hears opening statements in Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty trial

(File) Footage shows the officer standing outside the Parkland school during the shooting

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting and wounding 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, is facing a criminal trial for his crimes.

Cruz, a former student at the school, was just 19 years old when he went on a shooting spree in what proved to be the deadliest school massacre in US history.

He later surrendered to police and pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

Cruz was a member of the school’s air rifle team who was expelled because of his disciplinary record. He came to the school with a legally purchased AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and shot and killed 14 students and three staff members. The shootings sparked a nationwide protest movement demanding stricter gun control measures.

While prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cruz, his attorneys are hoping for a life sentence.

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: Video captured by students that day was publicly played in court along with audio broadcast


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Prosecutors show video of Nikolas Cruz before shooting: ‘You’re all going to die’

Parkland prosecutors showed jurors a video taken by Nikolas Cruz, convicted in the Florida high school shooting, and underlined the “cold, calculated, brutal and heinous” killings carried out by the then 19-year-old.

Showing the video, prosecutor Mike Staz said: “What the defendant said was: ‘Hello, my name is Nick. I’m going to be the next school shooter in 2018. My target is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. This is a big one. The event is coming up, and when you see me on the news, you’ll know who I am. You’re all going to die. Ah yes, I can’t wait,'”.


Parkland Shooting: We all know about the jury in the Nikolas Cruz sentencing hearing

The deadliest mass shooting went before a jury of seven men and five women on Monday in what is expected to be a month-long sentencing trial.

This is the first death penalty trial for Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

After the trial ends, jurors must vote 17 times individually for each of the school shooting victims on whether to recommend the death penalty to convict Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz, who is only contesting his sentence, pleaded guilty in October to murder and attempted murder.

However, selected jurors will have to visit gory crime scenes, see graphic photos and videos, and hear emotional testimony from witnesses presented by prosecutors. The jury, a rarity for a mass shooting trial, must conduct themselves entirely without assistance.

Judge Scherer will also tell jurors not to talk to anyone about what they saw, heard or thought, and that would apply to their best friends, spouses, clergy and even therapists.

Jurors are not allowed to discuss their experiences with each other until the trial begins.

This is not unusual as the move is mandated to ensure that judges’ opinions are not influenced by outsiders.


The Punishment of Nikolas Cruz: Timeline of the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

The February 2018 sentencing of Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has begun.

During the shooting, the 19-year-old took a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with him in an Uber and shot and killed 14 students and three staff members, marking one of the deadliest school shootings. in American history.

Here’s a timeline of the horrific shooting spree in Florida, which has become the nation’s deadliest mass shooting trial to go before a jury:


Parkland witness Daniel Gilbert told sentencing jury: ‘Was sitting like a sitting duck’

Daniel Gilbert, a junior in a psychology class who was present when the deadly shooting began at the Florida high school, told the sentencing jury that the students had no way to defend themselves when the rampage began.

“We were sitting like sitting ducks. We had no way to defend ourselves,” Ms. Gilbert, now a student at the University of Central Florida, said in court Monday.

He said at least four people were shot in the room, one of whom died.

He added that students were asked by teachers to sit behind desks.

Video clips he took from inside the classroom were also presented to jurors, and the audio revealed multiple rounds being fired. A fire alarm was also sounded in the video.

A young injured boy was also heard crying, “Somebody help me”.

As she finished her witness statement, Mrs Gilbert broke down in tears and was led out of court by her father who put his arms around her.

He broke down on the stand as the courtroom listened to audio of the shooting, while the jury was also made to watch the video.


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Cruz’s lawyers may argue for a reduced sentence

Parkland shooting convict Nikolas Cruz, facing trial for his sentence in the deadliest US mass shooting, could face death or life without the possibility of parole.

However, his team could point to a number of mitigating factors to reduce his sentence, saying he had no criminal history and that the then 19-year-old was in a state of extreme mental or emotional instability.

Attorneys can also tell the jury whether his conduct was substantially impaired in his ability to appreciate the crime or conform to the law.

The cruise team can present evidence such as:

  • His birth mother abused alcohol and drugs during pregnancy which damaged her brain and left Cruise intellectually disabled, Cruise’s attorneys have maintained. They linked it to his behavioral problems starting in preschool.
  • Sexual abuse by a “trusted colleague”.
  • His adoptive father died at the age of five, after which his adoptive mother had to raise him and his brother alone.
  • His adoptive mother also abused alcohol and died less than four months before the massacre
  • He was 19, a minor, when he went on a shooting spree

The video shows Nikolas Cruz’s reaction as audio of the shooting is played in court

The court played audio of the Nikolas Cruz shooting to the gallery on Monday with parents of the victims in attendance. The audio was recorded on his cell phone by a witness to the shooting, Daniel Gilbert, who was in court.

While parents and other people present at the hearing were unable to view the video, jurors were able to view the video of the shooting at students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

As the audio played for about two minutes, several family members were seen tearing up and some were seen running from the court.


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How Parkland shooter Cruz reacted to the prosecution’s opening statement

Law and CrimeIts Angenette Levy describes Nikolas Cruz’s reaction as the prosecution recounts the horrific events of February 14, 2018.

As the court watched harrowing video clips taken by massacre survivors, Cruz put his head in his hands as he sat next to his lawyers.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks down as the punishment phase of his trial begins.


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