Victim impact statements to continue during 11th day of Cruz’s death penalty trial
The prosecution team that is seeking the death penalty for the Parkland school shooter is set to continue calling witnesses on Wednesday at Broward County court in Fort Lauderdale.
Nikolas Cruz’s long-awaited penalty phase began on July 18. As of Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors had called 78 witnesses to testify about the case at the 17th-floor courtroom.
The list of witnesses the jury has listened to includes the 17 victims who survived their injuries on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s three-story 1200 building.
It also includes the 20 — most of them grieving mothers and fathers — who have read victim impact statements. Some of Cruz’s defense attorneys dabbed their eyes during the tearful testimony.
The witnesses represented 11 of the 17 Cruz killed. The victim impact statements pending are for 14-year-olds Alexander Schachter, Cara Loughran, and Gina Montalto; Peter Wang, 15; Helena Ramsey, 17; and Christopher Hixon, 49.
Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October. He was 19 years old when he used an AR-15 rifle to fire high-velocity rounds at students, teachers, and staff.
It will be up to the jury to decide Cruz’s fate. The 12 jurors have to vote unanimously on each of the victims for him to be executed. Otherwise, Cruz will face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer is presiding over the death penalty trial.