Parkland shooter trial will feature nearly 2,000 witnesses

Defense wants all names read to potential jurors to ensure impartiality

Assistant public defender Melisa McNeill introduces herself during Nikolas Cruz's penalty phase trial in a Broward County courtroom, April 4, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (WPLG)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The 12-panel jury who will be selected to decide the fate of the Parkland school shooter, life in prison without parole or the death penalty, will hear testimony from nearly 2,000 witnesses, Local 10 learned Wednesday. The state’s witness list stands at 1,100-plus and the defense witness list at 300-plus.

The defense is asking that all names be read to potential jurors to ensure that they don’t know any of the witnesses, or if they do, that the defense can question them about the connection before the trial begins.

Any connection could affect their ability to be “fair and impartial” is what the defense laid out.

While at first, the state suggested the general categories on the questionnaire were enough and Judge Elizabeth Scherer had agreed it was sufficient, lead prosecutor Michael Satz agreed Wednesday that his team would get their list together.

The plan is to read the names aloud. When the judge will read those more than 1,300 names to potential jurors was not discussed.

At least 20 total jurors will be selected with eight alternates in addition to the 12 seated to decide the fate of Nikolas Cruz. Cruz pleaded guilty to the deadly 2018 Parkland school shooting that left 17 people dead.

All 12 need to agree on the death penalty, otherwise, Cruz will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.


About the Authors:

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."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.