FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Two of the assistant public defenders working to save the Parkland school shooter’s life dabbed their eyes with white tissues on Tuesday as grieving parents read their victim statements in Broward County court.
Assistant Public Defenders Tamara Curtis and Attorney Nawal Najet Bashiman, who was next to Nikolas Cruz, had to remove their face masks to clean their tears.
Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeil dabbed her eyes with a tissue after Gena Hoyer said how much she misses her slain 15-year-old son Luke, whom she called “Lukey Bear.”
“It’s excruciating agony. I am heartbroken. A piece of my heart is missing. My life and my family will never be the same,” Hoyer said through tears.
“I don’t know that I will ever find real peace,” he said.
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’s 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.”