WATCH LIVE: Week 3 begins in penalty phase trial of Parkland school shooter
Dr. Terrill Tops, a forensic pathologist with the Palm Beach Medical Examiner’s Office, is on the witness stand during Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty trial on Monday in Fort Lauderdale.
Tops, the 54th witness to testify during the penalty phase, described the fatal injuries of Tom and Gena Hoyer’s 15-year-old son Luke, one of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
As Luke’s mother watched in tears, Tops said the shot to the teenage boy’s neck was fatal.
Meanwhile, the defense has filed a motion asking the court to preclude the use of Cruz’s conviction of battery on a law enforcement officer as an aggravating factor in this case.
Cruz pleaded guilty in that case involving BSO Sgt. Raymond “Ray” Beltran, who was attacked by Cruz inside the Broward County Main Jail.
The defense team stated in their motion that “the trial court must determine whether the facts and circumstances of a prior conviction meet the required threshold for whether an act is a life-threatening crime,” and stated that Beltran’s injuries were not life-threatening.
“He basically stopped talking, he flipped me off twice, and starts attacking,” Beltran said last week, adding Cruz got a hold of his Taser gun with his right hand.
The state is seeking the death penalty, while the defense is hoping Cruz’s life be spared and he be sentenced to life in prison.