The twelve members of the jury began deliberations this Wednesday to determine what sentence they will recommend to the judge for Nikolas Cruz, the young perpetrator of the 2018 Florida high school massacre: life in prison or the death penalty.
The seven men and five women who make up the jury received this Wednesday from the Justice Elizabeth Scherer the instructions to which they must abide during the time they are deliberating, which can take hours or days, and during which they will remain completely incommunicado.
In fact, the members of the jury have gone to the court in Fort Lauderdale, about 40 kilometers north of Miami (Florida) and where the case is taking place, with changes of clothes and sleeping bags.
cross, who faces 17 counts of murder after shooting with an assault rifle in a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) building, pleaded guilty last year to murdering 14 students and 3 employees from the educative centre.
On the first day of deliberations, the jury asked to see the AR-15 rifle used by Cruz during the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre, but Judge Scherer said the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, in charge of the gun, refused to release it to the jury for “security reasons.”
This upset prosecutor Michael Satz, who called it “absurd” that the jury cannot see the murder weapon.
“It’s absolutely absurd. The Sheriff’s Office can’t control what goes back into the jury room,” the prosecutor protested.
However, before concluding the day on Wednesday, the magistrate said that the jury should be able to see the firearm, bought illegally by Cruz, no later than this Thursday morning when they resume their deliberations.
The jury began deliberations after about three months of court hearings, during which the team of prosecutors led by Satz requested the death penalty for Cruz, after alleging that he planned everything meticulously in the face of the shooting he perpetrated on February 14, 2018 in what had been his school.
“It was calculated (…), it was intentional and it was a systematic slaughter“, the prosecutor stressed on Tuesday in his closing arguments, in which he reviewed Cruz’s deadly tour of the first-year building, even shooting through the windows of the doors that were closed and finishing off the students he had hit with his shots.
The defense, for its part, asks that he be sentenced to life in prison. and urged jurors Tuesday to look at Cruz’s “soul” and “whole life.”
Defense attorney Melisa McNeill and her team deployed a strategy based on the damage suffered by Cruz while he was in the womb of his biological mother, an alcoholic and drug-addicted woman, and summoned medical specialists who spoke about fetal disorders to court. suffered by children of drug-consuming mothers.
McNeill said in his closing arguments that Cruz “had no control over the crack his mother smoked while he was inside her womb” and emphasized the fetal disorders that he may have suffered because of his mother’s addictions.
The defender reminded the jurors that they have “Cruz’s life in their hands.”
A unanimous vote in favor of the death penalty on just one of the 17 murder charges Cruz faces would be enough for Judge Scherer to sentence him to death.
If so, the magistrate would set a date for the sentencing date, the day Cruz’s lawyers are expected to ask him to invalidate the jury’s verdict and that Scherer will probably ignore, after which the young man would be transferred to a state prison in Florida where he would wait for years to be executed, even with appeals in between.
If the jurors do not reach unanimity on any of the charges, Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison. and Scherer will not be able to overturn the verdict and could sentence him that very day to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.
The Parkland massacre unleashed a movement in favor of gun control in the US led by some students from the same MSD school, who took their claim to the US capital and some measures in Florida to prevent mass shootings and make more difficult access to weapons of war.
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