Parkland school shooter verdict: Juror’s letter gives behind-the-scenes look at ‘tense’ deliberations

Judge Elizabeth Scherer announces that the murder weapon will go back to the jury room to be available during jury deliberations in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool) (Amy Beth Bennett, © South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After the jurors in the Parkland school shooter’s case were dismissed Thursday, the foreman Benjamin Thomas said only three of the 17 jurors disagreed with the death penalty.

One of those jurors, a woman who works as a compliance investigator for the medical device firm, filed a handwritten letter in Broward County court addressed to Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

It revealed just how divided the jury was about the verdict.

“The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life,” she wrote.

Another woman serving on the jury “heard jurors who voted for the death penalty stating that I had already made up my mind on voting for life before the trial started,” she wrote. “This allegation is untrue.”

The jury’s disagreement resulted in the recommendation for life in prison without the possibility of parole for Nikolas Cruz.

Related story: Life for Parkland school shooter: Most jurors wanted death; 3 disagreed

Read the letter:

Letter filed in Broward County court on Thursday after verdict announcement. (Broward County Court)

Interactive graphic


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.