Defense wants jurors to ignore Nikolas Cruz’s behavior in court

Day 2 of death penalty trial continues with prosecution’s witnesses

Nikolas Cruz looks down at the desk on Tuesday in Broward County court in Fort Lauderdale. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – On Tuesday, Nikolas Cruz stared down at the table. He didn’t look up to acknowledge the witnesses who walked in and out of the Broward County courtroom in Fort Lauderdale.

Cruz ignored Christopher McKenna, a student he chose not to kill when he walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s freshman building on Feb. 14, 2018, armed with an AR-15.

Christopher McKenna testifies in Broward County court on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

“Get out of here! Things are going to get bad,” Cruz said, according to McKenna’s testimony in court.

Cruz sat between Assistant Public Defenders David Wheeler to his right and Tamara Curtis to his left. Five Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies were near him, two to his right and three to his left. Cruz appeared to write notes to Wheeler and rarely looked up.

Nikolas Cruz looks down at his desk on Tuesday in Broward County court in Fort Lauderdale. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

The defense team wants the jury to disregard Cruz’s apathetic behavior. In the “defendant’s request for special instruction” filed on Monday afternoon, prosecutors asked Judge Elizabeth Scherer to deliver a special instruction to the jury, records in the court docket show.

“Cruz is being administered psychotropic medication under medical supervision for a mental or emotional condition,” Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill wrote.

McNeill suggested Scherer’s order to the jury be:

“You shall not allow the defendant’s present condition in court or any apparent side effect from the medication that you may have observed in court to affect your deliberations.”

Scherer denied the motion, according to a Local 10 News source.

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Local 10 News Reporter Christina Vazquez contributed to this report.

About the Author:

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.