Parkland school shooter’s defense attorneys wipe away tears after grieving father testifies

Two of the assistant public defenders working to save the Parkland school shooter’s life dabbed their eyes with white tissues on Tuesday as grieving parents read their victim statements in Broward County court.

Assistant Public Defenders Tamara Curtis and Attorney Nawal Najet Bashiman, who was next to Nikolas Cruz, had to remove their face masks to clean their tears.

Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeil dabbed her eyes with a tissue after Gena Hoyer said how much she misses her slain 15-year-old son Luke, whom she called “Lukey Bear.”

“It’s excruciating agony. I am heartbroken. A piece of my heart is missing. My life and my family will never be the same,” Hoyer said through tears.

Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeil dabs her eyes with a handkerchief on Tuesday in Broward County court.

Bashima dabbed her eyes while Luke’s sister Abby Hoyer was in tears. She dabbed her eyes again after Tom Hoyer, Luke’s grieving father said his family was broken.

“I don’t know that I will ever find real peace,” he said.

Bashima dabbed her eyes while Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, spoke. Curtis did the same several times on Tuesday and during relatives’ testimony on Monday.

Assistant Public Defender Tamara Curtis wipes away tears on Tuesday in Broward County court in Fort Lauderdale.


During a hearing last year, Curtis had asked Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to consider granting a defense motion asking that only the court hear victim impact statements, which she argued would “infect the proceedings with unfairness so as to deny Mr. Cruz due process.”

Prosecutor Carolyn McCann stated at the time that “victim impact evidence is supposed to be presented to the jury for their consideration. The fact that it might be overwhelming to the jury because of the sheer number of murders committed is not a reason not to present it to the jury.”

The judge agreed with the state’s argument, denying the defense’s request.

The defense had also filed a motion to limit the number of victim impact statements jurors would hear. The motion indicated that they wanted there to be “one statement per victim,” for it to be “brief,” and that the statements be read to the jury by a “neutral party.”

That motion was also denied and on Monday, jurors heard from some of the relatives and loved ones of those killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.


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