The months-long US trial will resolve whether or not Nikolas Cruz might be executed or sentenced to life with out parole.
Opening arguments have begun within the penalty section of the trial of Nikolas Cruz, the person who killed 17 people at a Florida high school on February 14, 2018 – one of many deadliest faculty shootings in United States historical past.
About 50 relations of the victims have been within the courtroom on Monday, sitting collectively in a roped-off part. It was not clear if anybody, other than Cruz’s defence legal professionals, was there to help him. The trial, which is predicted to final about 4 months, was supposed to start in 2020, however the COVID-19 pandemic and authorized fights delayed it.
The seven-man, five-woman panel, backed up by 10 alternates, will hear from lead prosecutor Mike Satz, who is predicted to focus on Cruz’s brutality as he stalked a three-story classroom constructing, firing his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle down hallways and into school rooms. Cruz generally walked again to wounded victims and killed them with a second volley of pictures.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to the premeditated homicide of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, about 48km (30 miles) north of the town of Fort Lauderdale.
An expelled scholar with a historical past of psychological well being and behavioural issues on the time of the taking pictures, Cruz mentioned in his responsible plea that he was “very sorry” and requested to be given an opportunity to assist others.
The trial comes as gun violence in the US has gotten renewed consideration following a spate of current mass shootings together with one at an Independence Day parade outdoors Chicago, Illinois that killed seven people, and one other in Might at a faculty in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 kids and two lecturers lifeless.
The Parkland taking pictures is the deadliest to achieve trial in US historical past. 9 different gunmen who killed not less than 17 folks died throughout or instantly after their shootings, both by suicide or police gunfire. The suspect within the 2019 slaying of 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas is awaiting trial.
US President Joe Biden in June signed the primary main federal gun reform laws in three many years, which he has celebrated as a uncommon bipartisan settlement.
At a White Home occasion final week to herald the legislation’s passage, Biden was interrupted by Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Oliver shouted “we’ve already gone by means of this for years and years” and mentioned extra must be accomplished.
A Parkland sufferer’s father interrupted President Biden’s speech on the brand new gun invoice, which doesn’t embody an assault weapons ban: “You must do greater than that.”
Manuel Oliver’s son Joaquin was killed at Parkland.
There have been over 130 faculty shootings since then. pic.twitter.com/KtU0OECKCj
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 11, 2022
A jury will now decide whether or not Cruz needs to be sentenced to life in jail or obtain the demise penalty.
When jurors ultimately get the case later this 12 months, they may vote 17 instances, as soon as for every of the victims, on whether or not to suggest capital punishment.
Each vote should be unanimous. A non-unanimous vote for any one of many victims means Cruz’s sentence for that individual could be life in jail. The jurors are advised that to vote for the demise penalty, the irritating circumstances the prosecution has introduced for the sufferer in query should, of their judgement, “outweigh” mitigating elements introduced by the defence.
Prosecutors on the Broward County State Legal professional’s Workplace, in arguing for the demise penalty, have famous in courtroom paperwork that the taking pictures involving an AR-15 rifle was “chilly, calculated and premeditated”.
Some youngsters who survived the lethal rampage shaped March For Our Lives (MFOL), an organisation calling for gun management laws similar to a ban on assault-style rifles.
Cruz was 18 when he legally bought the rifle from a licensed gun supplier.