FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A woman’s T-shirt resulted in the dismissal Monday of about a dozen potential jurors in the death penalty trial of Nikolas Cruz, who plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill was the first to take issue with the woman’s T-shirt. In light font, her burgundy T-shirt had a public message: “Teacher Strong #neveragain #msdstrong.”
Cruz, who is now 23, was 19 years old when he used an AR-15 rifle during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, prosecutors said. The T-shirt had the school’s colors.
“She obviously did that on purpose to get out of jury selection,” said Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who is presiding over the trial in Fort Lauderdale.
Scherer’s goal is to have 12 jurors and 6-8 alternate jurors ready to listen to testimony, so they can decide if Cruz should be executed for his crimes.
Aside from the T-shirt, attorneys learned the woman also had a medical hardship. She said she suffered from a condition that prevented her from sitting for long periods of time.
“I am also a teacher and I don’t think that I would be really a good fit for this case,” The woman said.
Assistant State Attorney Michael Satz agreed with the decision to dismiss the potential juror and her group “out of an abundance of caution.”
“I know it is an inconvenience Judge but it is either an inconvenience now, or it is going to be an inconvenience later and the state agrees Judge,” McNeill said.