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Lawyers for accused Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz want to ban words like killer and massacre at his trial

Accused killer Nikolas Cruz appeared in a South Florida courtroom on Wednesday as attorneys argued over the language too be used at his trial for the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Accused killer Nikolas Cruz appeared in a South Florida courtroom on Wednesday as attorneys argued over the language too be used at his trial for the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Accused killer Nikolas Cruz appeared in a South Florida courtroom on Wednesday as attorneys argued over the language to be used at his trial.

Cruz is accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

His attorney wants a judge to ban words like killer, massacre, and mass shooter at trial.

“We are not making effort, as the state has alleged, to minimize or purify what happened,” defense attorney Melisa McNeill said during the hearing. “The evidence speaks for itself, and it’s not necessary to invite error into the record with these prejudicial references.”

Linda Beigel Schulman lost her son Scott in the shooting. He was a teacher and coach at MSD, and died trying to save students.

She was watching Wednesday’s hearing on Zoom.

“He is what he is, and he did what he did,” Beigel Schulman said of Cruz. “It was a slaughter to shoot all those people with a weapon of war. He knew what he was doing, he wrote it all out, it was all on his cell phone.”

The pain of 17 families, prolonged and now peaked, as many won’t even utter the accused shooter’s name.

“The idea that they don’t want him to be called a murderer or say it was an execution is outrageous,” said Debbie Hixon.

Her husband, Chris Hixon, was a coach at MSD and died trying to stop Cruz.

“He is a murderer, and it was an execution, nothing will change that. I am so angry that we have to be concerned about how he feels or how he is portrayed,” said Hixon.

As the proceedings leading up to this death penalty trial enter a fourth year, the defense now represents a 22-year-old whom the nation watched be taken down that February day in 2018.

Someone who, in his own videos, called himself the next school shooter.

Prosecutors say the words that the defense are trying to limit are simply facts.

“Especially when they adequately describe the defendant and what he did, what else do you call an event where somebody goes into a school and kills 17 innocent people? That is a massacre,” said prosecutor Nicole Chiappone.

A ruling by the judge on the war of words motion is expected sometime this week.


About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."