FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The search for the 12 jurors who will decide the fate of Nikolas Cruz continued Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.
Dozens of Broward County residents responded to jury duty for the second time. They had cleared the first phase since they did not have financial hardships or other obstacles preventing them from serving in court. But for some, that had changed.
“We had a juror who just got a new job and the new job won’t pay him because it is new. We have another juror who got into nursing school and it is a full-time program,” Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said in court.
Scherer asked a group to return on June 21st for the second phase of jury selection, the one-on-one questions about the death penalty.
In October, Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He was 19 and armed with a rifle during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Cruz, now 23, observed the process quietly. A member of his defense team was absent after calling in sick.
Scherer said on Monday the pandemic continued to affect the pace of the case. Attorney David Weinstein, who is not related to the case, has been following jury selection closely.
“It is a small delay and frustrating, but one that will be overcome by all of the parties,” Weinstein said.
Aside from the 12 jurors, Scherer also aims to have 6 to 8 alternate jurors who will listen to testimony and be ready to take their place if anything goes wrong.
The 12 jurors in the box must unanimously agree to sentence Cruz to the death penalty, or Scherer will sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.