Judge in Parkland shooting case denies defense motion to suppress evidence collected from 2 search warrants


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The judge overseeing the Parkland school shooting case has issued an order denying a defense motion to suppress evidence collected from two search warrants, one related to a Pompano Beach home the confessed gunman once resided in and another to Nikolas Cruz’s cell phone.

The Dec. 9 order pertains to arguments delivered by both sides during a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 15 that the judge took under advisement.

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During the pre-trial hearing, two Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives served as witnesses in an evidentiary hearing as the prosecution worked to counter defense arguments, namely that the affidavit in support of the warrant contained “false statements.”

The state’s response argued that any possible misstatements in the affidavit were not deliberately misleading and that even without them, there was probable cause.

For example, the defense told the court a word used to describe a color of a shirt, “maroon” as opposed to “burgundy” was a “false statement.”

Public defender: “This is a false statement that it is a maroon shirt.”

BSO detective: “Because it was a burgundy shirt?”

Public defender: “Yes, that is still a false statement.”

BSO detective: “I am not, maybe, as versed in colors as you are, but to me, that’s the same color.”

It was a distinction even the judge struggled to understand during the November hearing.

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In her Dec. 9 order, Judge Elizabeth Scherer writes that the language used to describe the color of the shirt was “not a false or misleading statement…this Court finds that the colors of maroon and burgundy are, to the laymen, extremely similar or synonyms. There was no attempt to mislead or lie to the magistrate about this detail.”

Scherer’s December order also found that another example the defense presented as a “false statement” was “not an intentional misrepresentation nor made with any reckless disregard for the truth” and had “no bearing on the determination” of probable cause.

When it comes to the defense argument that the search warrant affidavits were “overly broad” and failed to “establish a nexus between the criminal conduct being investigated and the places or things to be searched,” the judge wrote in her order that the “Court finds these arguments to be without merit. This Court finds that probable cause was established, no legal deficiency has been demonstrated, and the search warrants were properly issued.”

There is another pre-trial hearing related to pending motions scheduled for later Monday.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."