Parkland school shooter’s trial: Judge swears in jury despite defense objections

Judge: Opening statements in death penalty trial to begin July 18

Despite objections by the defense, jury selection in the Parkland school shooter’s death penalty trial ended Wednesday with a group of 12 jurors and 10 alternates.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Despite objections by the defense, jury selection in the Parkland school shooter’s death penalty trial ended Wednesday with a group of 12 jurors and 10 alternates.

The jury of seven men and five women includes a probation officer, an immigration officer who served in the U.S. military, a financial executive who served in the French military, the son of a police officer, and the daughter of a former police chief.

There is also a legal assistant, a librarian, a computer technician, a stocks supervisor at Walmart, a medical claims adjuster, a human resources executive, and a music lover who works in a family business.

“We are not accepting the panel,” Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill said in court.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer swore them in any way on Wednesday afternoon. She also said attorneys need to be ready to deliver their opening statements on July 18.

In the courtroom to witness it were Tom and Gena Hoyer, 15-year-old Luke Hoyer’s parents. The high school freshman was one of the 17 who Nikolas Cruz killed on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October. He was 19 when he used an AR-15 rifle to shoot at students and teachers on 2018 Valentine’s Day at his former school.

The jurors will have to review the evidence, visit the school building, and listen to testimony and attorneys’ closing statements before they decide if Cruz should be executed for his crimes.

If the jurors don’t agree that Cruz deserves the death penalty, Scherer will only have the option to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

More about 12 jurors

UPDATE: Tuesday’s Jurors 10 and 11 were dismissed. Juror 12 is now 10 and jurors 11 and 12 are new to the final panel.

Juror 1 is a man who works as an information technology analyst for a city in Miami-Dade County. He said he owns one handgun. He also said his brother is a police officer and his mother is a licensed mental health counselor.

Juror 2 is a man who works as a financial sector executive. He moved to Florida from Boston about a year ago, and he has about two decades of experience in his field. He served in the French military and doesn’t own a handgun.

Juror 3 is a man who works as a probation officer. He also has experience as a paralegal executive assistant for a personal injury firm. He doesn’t own a handgun.

Juror 4 is a man who works as a stocking supervisor for Walmart. He said his cousin was in a class with Cruz before the shooting. He said his uncle is a psychologist.

Juror 5 is a man who works as a computer technician in Miami-Dade County. He said he has more than 10 years of experience in his field and has serviced law firms. He is a father of three.

Juror 6 is a woman who works as a medical claims adjuster in Miami-Dade County. She has also worked in banking and in the office of a criminal defense attorney.

Juror 7 is a woman who has worked as a librarian for about four years. She has also worked in purchasing for the city of Coconut Creek, in a church, and in banking as a consumer lender. She said she has benefited from mental health counseling in the past.

Juror 8 is a woman who works in human resources and has about two decades of experience. She said she worked as an X-ray technician when she lived in Michigan and was in college. She moved to Broward County in 2019. She is a board member of Mental Health America of Southeast Florida, a non-profit organization. She owns a handgun.

Juror 9 is a woman who works as a legal assistant and has experience with prosecutors. She said she has considered going to law school. She said she has benefited from mental health counseling.

Juror 10 is a man who has worked as an immigration officer since 2018. He said he served in the U.S. military from 2013 to 2016 and then took time off to do “hippie stuff.”

“I have done a dozen qualification events but, outside the range, I haven’t used weapons,” he said in court during attorneys’ one-on-one interviews.

Juror 11 is a man who works for a family business involving exports. He said he earned a college degree in music and worked as a project manager until the pandemic disrupted the industry.

Juror 12 is a woman who works as a senior compliance investigator for a medical device firm. She said she has worked in finance and accounting. Her father was a police chief.

“I have a lot of respect police,” she said in court during attorneys’ one-on-one interviews.

12 p.m. report

Despite objection by the defense, jury selection in the Parkland school shooter’s death penalty trial ended Wednesday with a group of 12 jurors and 10 alternates.

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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."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.