Courtroom officers say 1,500 candidates or extra may very well be introduced earlier than Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer, prosecutors and Cruz’s public defenders for preliminary screening over the subsequent a number of weeks. The ultimate panel will comprise 12 jurors plus eight alternates. Cruz, 23, pleaded responsible in October to the Feb. 14, 2018, bloodbath at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College, which means the jury will solely resolve if he receives a loss of life sentence or life with out parole.
Seven different U.S. killers who fatally shot no less than 17 individuals died throughout or instantly after their assaults, both by suicide or by the hands of police. The suspect within the 2019 bloodbath of 23 at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart remains to be awaiting trial.
Death penalty trials in Florida and far of the nation usually take two years to start out due to their complexity, however Cruz’s was additional delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and in depth authorized wrangling.
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Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, died within the assault, stated the trial “has been a very long time coming.”
“I simply hope everybody remembers the victims,” he stated. Cruz, he stated, “instructed the world his plans on social media, carried out these plans in a chilly and calculated method and murdered my stunning daughter, 13 of her classmates and three of her academics.”
The dad and mom and spouses of victims who’ve spoken publicly stated they’re in favor of Cruz’s execution. Montalto has not answered the query straight, however has stated on a number of events that Cruz “deserves each likelihood he gave Gina and the others.”
On Mondays by Wednesdays for many of the subsequent a number of weeks, potential jurors might be introduced into the courtroom in teams of 60, about 4 per day.
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They are going to be requested if they will put apart any animosity towards Cruz and decide the case pretty. They may then be requested if they’re accessible from June by September. Out of every group, Scherer is hoping 5 stay.
Candidates who cross these hurdles might be taken into one other room, the place they may fill out a questionnaire on their backgrounds and beliefs for the attorneys to later overview. They are going to be introduced again in a number of weeks for particular person questioning. To qualify for the jury, they have to say they will vote for the loss of life penalty if the proof helps that verdict, but additionally don’t consider it must be necessary for homicide.
Each prosecutors and the protection can problem any potential juror for trigger. Scherer will remove candidates who attorneys from both aspect have satisfied her can be prejudiced in opposition to their aspect. Both sides may also get no less than 10 peremptory strikes, the place both can remove a candidate for any cause besides race or gender.
For Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas scholar, to get the loss of life penalty, the jury should unanimously agree that aggravating components such because the variety of individuals he killed, his planning and his cruelty outweigh such mitigating components as his lifelong psychological sickness and the loss of life of his dad and mom.
If any juror disagrees, Cruz will obtain a life sentence.
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