Parkland School reopens for jury tour ahead of Nicholas Cruz death penalty trial

The judge who presided over the deadliest mass shooting on record ruled the jury will be granted permission to view the blood-stained Parkland, Fla. school building where gunman Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people. reported the Associated Press.

23-year-old Cruz’s defense tried to argue that a tour of the facilities was unnecessary given that her client had pleaded guilty and there was, they argued, sufficient video and photo evidence of the Marjory massacre Stoneman Douglas High school on February 14, 2018.

District Judge Elizabeth Scherer, however, saw it differently.

“The court finds that a jury view of the crime scene remains useful and appropriate, even given the current state of the case,” Ms Scherer wrote in a ruling released Monday, according to the Associated Press.

“The purpose of a jury report is to assist the jury in analyzing and applying the evidence presented at trial.”

Jury selection for what is expected to be a closely watched trial, as the panel will decide whether or not Mr. Cruz faces the death penalty or life without parole, began Monday and is expected to last several weeks as judges, prosecutors and the public view Mr. Cruz Defense attorneys are looking for the final 12 judges plus eight alternates.

Prosecutors, who advocated reopening the pristine scene where Cruz methodically killed his colleagues and school staff, believe a tour of the facilities would help better understand the case. Although not always granted by judges, both the defense and the prosecutor may request it.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer is shown during jury preselection in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Monday, April 4, 2022.

(© South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been fenced off and closed to the public since the Valentine’s Day massacre. According to reports, details such as the blood on the floor where people were shot and the holes in the wall are still untouched.

Since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Florida has executed 99 people. But death penalty trials can understandably take some time.

In Florida, much like the rest of the country, they can take up to two years before they even begin, and with Mr. Cruz’s trial already delayed due to the ongoing pandemic and litigation, the time it would take from start to it will take, may take even longer to decide.

For Mr. Cruz, a former student of Majory Stoneman Douglas, to receive the death penalty, all juries must agree.

If either of the 12 jurors does not agree that factors such as the number of people killed, the intent or the cruelty unleashed on the 17 people murdered that day in February 2018 equate to a death penalty, then Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison Parole.

With files from Associated Press.

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