Parkland school shooting – LIVE: Jurors hear opening statements in Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty trial

Parkland school shooting – LIVE: Jurors hear 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



Court recess for the day

The state’s next witness is not in town until this evening and so court breaks early today.

The jury was excused for the day by Judge Scherer.


New witness: Gatton Nieves

Gaston Nieves took the stand. He is a digital video examiner for the FBI and has been in this role for 18 years.

Mr. Nieves’ role is to protect, extract and examine digital evidence from anything storing such assets.

He also identifies the server from the school and explains that when they took custody of the server they changed the password for easy access.


New witness: Carlos Castelo

The next witness was Carlos Castello, a retired special agent with the FBI.

In February, he was sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in custody of the video server.

The server was moved to the FBI building in Miramar, Florida.


New witness: James Kessler

The next state’s witness is James Kessler, who operates the Broward County School Board’s video surveillance system.

He locates images of the server used to record video from the school and ensures that it is turned over to the FBI.


New witness: Maximo Rosario

The state called its next witness, Maximo Rosario, the Broward County Department of Education’s current director of classroom technology. He was previously an assistant principal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He was asked about the installation and operation of the school’s motion-triggered security camera system.


Defense motion for mistrial denied

After video footage of the massacre was aired in court, the defense team moved for a trial based on the outcry of someone in the courtroom gallery and the volume of videos played.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer delivers her opening statement for the state during the penalty phase trial of Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.


Judge Scherer denied the suggestion that he could not hear what was said in the explosion or by whom, but activated the court’s white noise machine to mask the sounds out of alert.

“Someone yelling a thing and you can’t see them, or you can’t hear exactly what they’re saying is not even close to the basis of a mistrial.”

The jury is now being brought back into the room after the afternoon break and another witness will be called.


Why no questions from the defense team?

There was no cross-examination or cross-examination from Cruise’s defense team as three witnesses now took the stand.

This is probably because there is nothing to be gained by challenging the survivors of the horrific events of February 14, 2018 when Cruz has already admitted his guilt.

The defense only needs to prove that the mitigating factors outweigh the state’s aggravating factors and they cannot do so until their case-in-chief is present.


New witness: Dylan Kramer

A new witness was called, Deland Kramer, who was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Cruz was in Holocaust class history when he launched his attack. Cruz fired through a classroom door window as they hit multiple people trying to take shelter, including behind an overturned filing cabinet.

Two people were killed and many were injured.

Mr. Kramer also took video on his cellphone that day. It is also played on the court. Heavy gunshots and terrifying screams are heard.

Cruz’s head is now down on the desk, sitting with his defense team.

Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy reported that family members of the victims put their hands in the air and said “Stop it!”


Following the videos, Ms. Gilbert was excused because the defense refused to question her.

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