Judge continues to eliminate prospective jurors in Nikolas Cruz’s penalty phase

Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old defendant who pleaded guilty to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, waited quietly on Tuesday as the jury selection process continued for the second day.

The search for 12 jurors and eight alternates started with a pool of about 1,000 prospective jurors. Attorneys expect the phased selection process will take about two months. The potential jurors will have to answer questions from public defenders, prosecutors, and the judge.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said the trial’s penalty phase will start on May 31st and run through September. The jurors will have to learn the facts of the case and decide if Cruz will face the death penalty or life in prison.

Related story: Man shows up to court with a security guard to support Nikolas Cruz

‘FAIR AND IMPARTIAL’

On Tuesday morning, the prospective jurors were placed under oath.

“From a religious standpoint, I do not feel that it is my right to be able to say, ‘You deserve to be put to death,’” a prospective juror said adding, “It would just be very hard for me to say, ‘I believe that this person should be put to death.’”

Assistant State Attorney Michael Satz pressed the prospective juror on whether or not she thought she could be fair and impartial. She wavered.

“So when you said before you could never vote for the death penalty, you are going back on that?” Satz asked.

“Yes, I am,” she responded.

Defense attorney Casey Secor told Scherer she didn’t want the prospective juror to be excused. Prosecutors argued she should be struck for cause. Scherer agreed and said that while her responses were thoughtful there was reasonable doubt about her capacity to be fair and impartial. The process continued.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the defense and the prosecution teams each had 10 peremptory challenges, the standard number of strikes for a death penalty case involving the death penalty or life in prison. Judges may increase the number of strikes as the process moves forward.

Scherer told those in the courtroom that just knowing about the case would not be a reason to be relieved of jury duty. Some of the reasonable excuses to be relieved would be being a caretaker to someone, owning a small business that would suffer without the owner there, or fear of not being paid fully by one’s employer during the months it’s expected the trial to last.

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Interactive graphic: The victims and the crime

More afternoon reports

Day 2 of jury selection: 3:30 p.m. report

Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old defendant who pleaded guilty to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, waited on Tuesday as the jury selection process continued for the second day.

Day 2 of jury selection: 12 p.m.

Tuesday marked day 2 of jury selection for confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s penalty phase trial.

Day 1 of jury selection: 11 p.m.

For more than four years, family members of the 17 students and staff murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February of 2018 have waited for this day.Read More


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