Parkland school shooter: Defense says motion for mistrial relates to ‘prejudicial’ swastikas in evidence

Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill moved for a mistrial on Thursday during the Parkland school shooter trial’s death penalty phase in Broward County court in Fort Lauderdale.

Assistant Public Defender Tamara Curtis said the swastikas that Cruz drew on an assignment that the defense wanted to introduce into evidence could influence the jury’s final decision on the death penalty, so she wanted to introduce the record with a redaction.

“It’s just one of those prejudicial hate symbols in the world,” Curtis said.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the defense’s motion for the redaction. In response, McNeill said the trial should be rendered invalid through an error in the proceedings.

“This is not a strategic decision,” McNeill said.

McNeill said the defense had made several requests for Scherer to rule on their request to omit all of the swastikas in evidence. McNeill said not doing so was a violation of “fair trial rights.”

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus disagreed. He argued the drawings in question were not related to the motion that McNeill was referring to. Marcus said the defense was well aware of the issue and the move for a mistrial was their strategy.

“The defense has already opened the door to mental health testimony,” Marcus said about the swastika being a symptom of Cruz’s anti-social personality disorder.

Scherer denied the defense’s motion to redact the Nazi symbols on specific drawings that were being admitted into evidence and also denied what she referred to as the defense’s “anticipatory mistrial” strategy.

Here are some of the public court records on the motion mentioned:

July 15

(Record on SF-202. D-306)

File defense exhibit: To post-hearing brief in opposition to SF-202

File defendant’s: Post-hearing memorandum in opposition to SF-202

Parkland school shooter: Re… by

July 1

(Record on SF-202. Evidenced-299)

File defendants response: In opposition to the state’s motion for pretrial ruling on the admissibility of rebuttal evidence

June 30

(F-202)

File states motion: For pre-trial ruling on the admissibility of rebuttal evidence (Swastikas and hate speech on social media)

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