WATCH LIVE: Day 2 of sentencing trial for Parkland school shooter
Day 2 of the penalty phase trial for confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz began Tuesday with the defense team arguing that the state doesn’t need to show jurors videos from that tragic day as guilt has already been established.
The defense stated that the state witnesses can just testify with words and the videos are more prejudicial than of probative value.
The state argued that the videos are needed to prove that aggravating factors existed during the crime.
According to Florida state statutes, aggravating factors can include that the defendant “knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons” and that the murders were committed in “a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification,” or were “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.”
Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the defense’s motion, but she ruled that sensitive evidence, like surveillance video capturing the shooter murdering and wounding staff and students at MSD, will be shown only to the jurors and shielded from the public.
On Monday, the lead prosecutor told the jury that Cruz, who attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day in 2018, should be executed.
Prosecutor Mike Satz described to 12 jurors the cold, calculating way Cruz mowed down his victims, including returning to some as they lay wounded to finish them off.
He also quoted a video Cruz, then 19, made three days before the shooting.
“This is what the defendant said: ‘Hello, my name is Nik. I’m going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It’s going to be a big event, and when you see me on the news, you’ll know who I am. You’re all going to die. Ah yeah, I can’t wait,’” Satz said.
On Monday, the jury heard from several witnesses, including a teacher and two students.
“We were sitting like sitting ducks. We had no way to protect ourselves,” said Danielle Gilbert, who is now a student at the University of Central Florida.
At the time, Gilbert was a junior who was in psychology class when the shooting began.
She said her teacher told students to get behind her desk.
The jury was then shown cellphone video Gilbert took inside the classroom. The footage began with a girl curled up beneath the teacher’s desk and others, including Gilbert, mostly unseen as they crouch behind it.
About two dozen shots that seemed to be coming from just outside the door are heard in rapid succession as the fire alarm sounds. An unseen wounded boy cries out twice, “Someone help me.”
Cruz pleaded guilty in October to murder and attempted murder in the deaths of 14 students and three staff members at the school.
The 23-year-old is contesting only his sentence.
The jury will decide whether he is sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
The trial is expected to last for about four months.