Defense attorney for Parkland school shooter dabs eyes as victims’ loved ones testify

Defense team previously filed motion seeking to limit victim impact statements

(WPLG)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – One of the Parkland school shooter’s defense attorneys dabbed her eyes Monday as jurors heard from family members of the victims killed in the February 2018 shooting.

Attorney Tamara Curtis was seen dabbing her eyes as the mother and sister of Joaquin Oliver read their statements.

Some family members in attendance were in tears.

“They can’t move for a mistrial based on their own emotional reaction,” legal analyst David Weinstein said. “Plus, if they do, it will only draw more attention to it.”

During a hearing last year, Curtis had asked Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to consider granting a defense motion asking that only the court hear victim impact statements, which she argued would “infect the proceedings with unfairness so as to deny Mr. Cruz due process.”

Prosecutor Carolyn McCann stated at the time that “victim impact evidence is supposed to be presented to the jury for their consideration. The fact that it might be overwhelming to the jury because of the sheer number of murders committed is not a reason not to present it to the jury.”

The judge agreed with the state’s argument, denying the defense request.

The defense had also filed a motion to limit the number of victim impact statements jurors would hear. The motion indicated that they wanted there to be “one statement per victim,” for it to be “brief,” and that the statements be read to the jury by a “neutral party.”

That motion was also denied and on Monday, jurors heard from some of the relatives and loved ones of those killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Our lives have been shattered and changed forever,” Patricia Oliver said through tears.

Oliver lost her son, Joaquin, in the shooting.

A stoic Andrea Ghersi, Joaquin’s older sister, said that even though her brother was 6-foot, 1-inches tall, he was still her baby brother.

“It hurts a lot, not just today but every single day,” Ghersi said.

Jurors also heard from the mother and sister of Alaina Petty, 14, who died in her JROTC uniform.

Her mother, Kelly Petty, said Alaina joined JROTC in following with her older brother’s footsteps.

“I am heartbroken that I will not be able to watch her become the amazing young woman that she was turning into,” Kelly Petty said while reading her victim statement.

Alaina’s older sister, Meghan Petty, said she feels confused and angry about her sister’s murder every day. In her victim’s statement, she said it upset her that her sister didn’t get to experience romantic love.

“I would have loved to see her grow up because I know she would have been a blessing to the world,” Meghan Petty said.

Linda Beigel told the jury about her slain son Scott Beigel, a geography teacher and cross-country coach. Nikolas Cruz fatally shot him on the 1200 building’s third floor, in front of his classroom.

Michael Schulman, his stepfather, also read a statement. He said that after he married Linda Beigel he decided to adopt Scott Biegel when he was in his 20s.

“I miss my son today. I will miss my son tomorrow. I will miss my son for the rest of my life,” Linda Beigel said.

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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."

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.