Parkland school shooter’s drawings in jail result in suicide watch

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz listens with Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, left, as sentence mitigation specialist Kate O'Shea, a member of the defense team, speaks during the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool) (Amy Beth Bennett, © South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Parkland school shooter has been drawing and writing while in Broward County jail. He writes on the wall of his cell.

Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill vaguely mentioned Cruz’s disturbing behavior during her opening statement in court on Monday. It was an indication that this will come up as the defense presents a case to try to save his life.

“The evidence will show you that he draws a lot of bad things and that he continues to do that stuff over at the Broward County main jail,” McNeill said.

Records released on Monday show there were 30 pages of Cruz’s drawings. Deputies viewed these as symptomatic threats of homicidal and suicidal ideations and put him on suicide watch in May.

“One day he wants to live and one day he wants to die,” McNeill said adding that Cruz has suffered from different obsessions, including a current one with demons.

Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October for the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Prosecutors advocating for the death penalty rested their case on Aug. 4.

The defense only needs to convince one juror to avoid the death penalty. The jury must have a unanimous vote for him to be executed. Otherwise, Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT: BSO releases images of Cruz’s drawings displaying violence, expletives, and disturbing content

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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.