WATCH LIVE: Rebuttal experts diagnose Parkland school shooter as sociopath
The prosecution seeking the death penalty for the Parkland school shooter had a psychologist, who specializes in the relationship between the physical brain and behavior, testify for the third day.
Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus introduced Robert Denney on Monday as one of the few in the world who are board certified in both clinical neuropsychology and forensic psychology,
Denney continued to testify on Tuesday about evidence he found showing Nikolas Cruz was “grossly exaggerating” severe mental illness during psychological testing.
The prosecution has had witnesses testifying that Cruz’s actions during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas do not have to do with his mother’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Denney said he tested Cruz in March in front of one of his attorneys and he recorded videos of the sessions, some of which the prosecution played for the jury to see.
“I felt like no one loved me and I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and I wanted to ruin it for everyone … for the school,” Cruz told Denney about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to a video the prosecution played Thursday in court.
Denney questioned the conclusions of two defense witnesses — Paul Connor, a neuropsychologist, and Dr. Kenneth Lyons, the defense’s lead witness.
Lyons used Connor’s data to say Cruz fulfills the criteria for alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, which causes intellectual disabilities, behavioral problems — and Lyons said can lead to murder.
Denney’s testimony follows that of Dr. Charles L. Scott, a forensic psychiatrist, who said Cruz’s “premeditated acts of aggression” are characteristic of anti-social personality disorder and not ARND.
“They disparage others. They have a lack of remorse about harming or hurting other people,” Scott said after mentioning Cruz’s racist, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic comments and posts.
Denney agreed with Scott on Thursday and said Cruz’s behavior, which included an interest in child pornography and violence toward animals, was not characteristic of ARND but of ASPD, also known as sociopathy.
To conclude Denney’s testimony Thursday, Marcus listed the names of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at MSD, as he asked if ARND was characteristic of that behavior.
Denney answered in the negative 17 times.
“It is but I don’t think it spells out diagnostic criteria,” Denney said after testifying that it was not an established diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder last year. The murder counts allowed only two sentences: Life in prison without the possibility of parole or death.
Florida requires a jury’s unanimous vote to recommend death for each of the 17 counts, so the defense aims to convince one of the 12 jurors to choose life for all 17, so Cruz can avoid execution.
Watch videos of rebuttal experts’ testimony
Denney testifies on Monday
Denney testifies on Tuesday
Scott testifies on Sept. 28
Scott testifies on Monday