Prospective jurors wary of life or death decision as Parkland shooting trial continues

Attorneys continued working on seating a jury to decide if the convicted Parkland school shooter will be executed for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas or spend the rest of his life in prison.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Attorneys continued working on seating a jury to decide if the convicted Parkland school shooter will be executed for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas or spend the rest of his life in prison.

On Tuesday, the judge set a date of Monday, June 27 for testimony to begin in the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial, though that date may not be set in stone.

Jury selection previously scheduled May 31 through June 3 will not happen because attorneys scheduled depositions on those days, which could push back the process, including the start of testimony.

As jury selection continued on Tuesday, some potential jurors were not comfortable with the idea of having a man’s life in their hands.

One potential juror’s voice quivered under the weight of the consideration.

Another told the court that they were not here to judge and that its up to “our maker” to pass that judgement.

One man said would only support the death penalty to protect others. In this case, Nikolas Cruz already has life without parole. “He can’t really hurt anybody,” the man said, since Cruz is already separated from society.

In the afternoon group, one woman told the court she felt uncomfortable because if chosen to serve, it would be like her finger is now, “on the trigger.”

Then there was the father who adamantly said would not consider mitigating evidence because there are “too many victims.” He said he would choose death “no doubt” while emphasizing that his decision comes as a dad who loves his only son.

Attorneys continued to probe the core values of prospective jurors, seeking an impartial jury who can set aside any personal beliefs or bias to fairly consider and weigh the evidence.

“The defense will be looking for those who are more inclined to feel that two wrongs don’t make a right,” said jury consultant and analyst Dr. Rachel Colangelo. “The state is also going to be looking for those who are more prone to feel that it is morally right, that perhaps this is the only justice for the victims, that Nikolas Cruz should lose his life.”


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."