Day 2 of verdict watch: Jurors resume deliberations after requesting Parkland school shooter’s rifle
The jury in the Parkland school shooter’s penalty phase is serving during the second day of deliberation on Thursday, according to Broward Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer.
The jurors were waiting to view the AR-15-style rifle that Nikolas Cruz used for the 17 murders during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The jury requested to view the evidence Wednesday afternoon, but the Broward Sheriff’s Office wasn’t prepared to comply immediately as the prosecution expected. Chief Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz showed it to the jury during witness testimony.
Scherer told the defense and the prosecution on Thursday morning that BSO deputies had found a solution: To remove the firing pin from the rifle. Jurors arrived at the courthouse with their luggage.
Day 1 of verdict watch | ‘Preposterous’: Chief prosecutor baffled jurors can’t see rifle
DISCUSSION ON RIFLE
Late Wednesday afternoon, Scherer said they couldn’t provide it to the jury for “security reasons,” that this was “above” her “pay grade,” and that she was going to stay on her lane.
“It is absolutely preposterous. The Sheriff’s Office can’t control what goes back to the jury room. What if it’s a machete? A machete is more dangerous than a rifle without any bullets,” Satz told Scherer adding that BSO deputies were the ones getting in her lane and the delay was “ridiculous.”
Related document: View the jury instructions
Scherer said Capt. Osvaldo “Ozzy” Tianga assured her it would be taken care of. She asked BSO deputies to return the sequestered jurors back to the courtroom at 9 a.m., and she also asked the attorneys to return to court by 8:30 a.m.
Cruz purchased the rifle legally in February 2017 from Sunrise Tactical Supply in Coral Springs, prosecutors said. Local 10 News requested a statement from BSO about their inability to respond to the jury’s request — halting deliberations late Wednesday afternoon — but received no response.
Related lists and videos: Factors and circumstances jury is considering
Scherer charged the five women and seven men on the jury Wednesday morning to weigh both the seven aggravating circumstances that prosecutors argued increased the severity or culpability and the 40 mitigating factors that the defense argued lessened Cruz’s culpability.
The jury’s foreman will have to submit a signed verdict form with the recommendation on each of the 17 first-degree murder counts.
Related story: Meet the jurors who are deliberating
The prosecution’s rebuttal had seven witnesses during four days in court from Sept. 17 to Oct. 5. That means jurors listened to testimony for 30 days in court during two months and 13 days of service.
If the jury recommends the death penalty in just one of the 17 counts, Scherer will be able to sentence Cruz to death. But if only one juror recommends life in every single count, then Scherer will consider sentencing Cruz to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Watch the video of the discussion about the rifle (Oct. 12)
Watch the 11 p.m., Oct. 12 report
The jury requested to view the Parkland school shooter’s rifle on Wednesday afternoon.