WATCH LIVE: State’s rebuttal begins in penalty phase of Parkland school shooter’s trial

The prosecutors who are seeking the death penalty for the Parkland school shooter started to call witnesses for rebuttal, their effort to disprove his defense, on Tuesday in Broward County court.

The first witnesses were Sgt. Gloria Crespo and Detective Clint Williams. They testified about the hand-etched swastikas Nikolas Cruz displayed on his rifle and boot during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The third witness was Detective Nicholas Masters who testified about some of Cruz’s racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic searches online. Masters also listed child porn and animal abuse searches and posts.

“I hate people and I hate animals,” Cruz wrote, according to Masters.

Before calling the fourth witness, the prosecution and the defense argued about whether or not jurors should learn about Cruz’s lack of remorse to support a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, or sociopathy, which is associated with a lack of empathy.

In October 2021, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. This limited the penalty phase to a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The prosecution rested on Aug. 4 after calling 91 witnesses in 12 days. The public defenders who are trying to save his life rested on Sept. 14 after calling 26 witnesses in 11 days.

Since a unanimous vote is required for execution in Florida, the defense only needs to convince one of the 12 jurors to oppose the death penalty.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin after the first week of October. Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer decided the jury will be sequestered during deliberations.

Watch videos of today’s witnesses

Crespo shows swastika on rifle

Williams shows swastika on boot

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