Parkland shooter trial: Another day of prospective juror interviews as it gets closer to selection

Another day of jury selection continued Thursday in a Broward County courtroom in the trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The state asked straightforward questions about background. The answers and bio data points provide a pathway for the defense to dig into details to unpack a broad range of categories.

“What is your work history,” one potential juror was asked by lead prosecuting attorney Michael Satz.

“I was military for most of my adult life until I was 18.”

Through the state’s questioning, we learned that potential juror 15 from the morning panel is a telecommunications project manager, a cancer survivor, and served in the military.

“Unfortunately, I ended up getting a type of cancer that caused a medical retirement for me.”

His wife works as a receptionist at his son’s Christian school and given that prosecutors plan to walk the jury through the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, which is preserved as a crime scene, the defense asked if he could be distracted thinking about his wife and son at school.

Public defender Nawal Najet Bashiman asked: “Can you set that aside?”

“Yes,” he responded, “because being military we have our own challenges, wartime combat, and those kind of things, so I feel comfortable seeing those things.”

He was also asked about his views on mental health professionals.

“If I understand your question do I feel that all mental health professionals are quacks? The answer is no. Military, we have had significant challenges – PTSD, so mental health is a huge value-added from many perspectives.”

And when queried about young people playing first-person shooter video games, he said he believes in parental oversight.

“I think there needs to be active involvement.”

Legal analyst David Weinstein said these questions are “trying to dig into the minds of the jurors . . . to find out the way that a juror thinks and then based on the answers to these questions the prosecutors, and the defense attorneys, along with the defendant will find out whether or not a particular juror is suitable for them and whether they are going to accept them as part of the jury panel.”

Final jury selection is scheduled for Tuesday.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer set a start of trial testimony for July 6 but indicated to potential jurors Thursday that date could change.

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