PARKLAND, Fla. – After Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said court resumes on Tuesday morning, Fred Guttenberg gave Annika Dworet a hug. Jennifer Guttenberg hugged Mitch Dworet before they walked out of the 17th-floor courtroom in Fort Lauderdale.
The grieving families have been comforting each other. Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg also had their tearful moments last week, as they listened to witnesses talk about their 14-year-old daughter Jaime’s death on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Annika Dworet was in tears on Monday as she listened to Dr. Stephen L. Robinson, a pathologist who served as a witness of the prosecution team that is seeking the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz. Robinson detailed the results of the autopsy he performed on their 17-year-old son, Nicholas Dworet.
“The bullet passed under the right clavicle or the collar bone, at that point transected or lacerated major vessels ... It proceeded to pass through the upper part of the right lung. From there it entered the pericardium, which is the heart sac surrounding the heart ... it actually passed through the left side of the heart,” Robinson said, adding the wound was fatal.
Nicholas Dworet died in classroom 1214. Aside from Robinson and Dr. Wendolyn Sneed, another medical examiner, the prosecution’s witnesses on Monday also included two members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, a former MSD student survivor, and an Uber driver. The jury saw Cruz’s rifle.
WATCH the 12 p.m. report
Sneed said 15-year-old Peter Wang, a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadet, was shot 13 times. She performed his autopsy after he died in the 1200 building’s hallway. The jurors saw crime scene photos showing Peter’s body in a pool of blood.
Laura Zecchini, the Uber driver who gave Cruz a ride before the massacre, said Cruz told her he was going to a music lesson. She said she assumed Cruz, then 19 years old, was carrying a case for a musical instrument — and not for a rifle.
BSO Sgt. Gloria Crespo was on the stand when Assistant State Attorney Michael Satz held up an AR-15 rifle. Crespo identified it as the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Cruz used to shoot 34 people in the school’s 1200 building.
Crespo said she found it as she collected evidence on the third floor and the stairwells. She said she also found the Armor Empire bulletproof vest and a Nassau County Police identification that belonged to Roger P. Cruz, Cruz’s late adoptive father.
Cruz abandoned it all on the 1200 building’s west stairwell before his escape, deputies said. Cruz also left behind 180 bullets. Crespo and BSO Detective Miguel Suarez provided a granular account of the hundreds of shell casings that were inside the building.
WATCH the 3 p.m. report
Justin Colton said he was among the students Cruz wounded in classroom 1216. He was the 17th of the wounded to testify during the penalty phase.
“I have a couple of fragments still in my lower back and I have a scar on my arm as well ... I can’t do some motions,” Colton said adding he was shot in the right arm and his lower right back.
In the courtroom’s section designated for the grieving families, Alex Schachter’s father, Max Schachter, and Luke “Lukey” Hoyer’s parents Gena and Tom Hoyer, and his sister Abby Hoyer also watched in silence. Luke was 14 years old when Cruz killed him in the first floor’s hallway. Alex, 14, died in classroom 1216.
Fred Guttenberg also held the hand of Debbie Hixon, who was seated to his left behind him. She is the widow of Chris Hixon, the MSD athletic director and wrestling coach who Cruz shot in the first-floor hallway. Hixon served in the U.S. Navy.
Dworet’s parents were seated behind Joaquin Oliver’s mother, Patricia Padauy, and his older sister, Andrea Ghersi. His outspoken father Manuel Oliver has yet to visit the courtroom. Cruz killed Joaquin in front of the third floor’s locked restroom. He was 17.
Helena Ramsey’s father Vincent “Vinnie” Ramsey and her older brother Ellis Ramsey were in the last row of the section that is reserved for the relatives of the victims. Cruz killed Helena in classroom 1214, where Nicholas Dworet died. She was 17
WATCH the 4 p.m. report
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October. His defense has yet to present an opening statement and a list of witnesses who will likely focus on Cruz’s mental health, his stressors, and systemic failures.
The 12 jurors, who are seated in two rows and among the 10 alternate jurors, will have to consider each victim and vote on whether or not Cruz deserves to die for his crimes. Without the jury’s unanimous vote, Scherer will have to sentence Cruz to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Scherer, who has estimated the penalty phase will be at least three months long, said the court is in recess until 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
WATCH the 5 p.m. report
Coverage from court
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