FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The mass shooting at a Texas elementary school invaded the penalty trial of Florida’s campus killer Wednesday as lawyers argued over whether potential jurors should be questioned directly about the nation’s latest gun tragedy and a victim’s father was brought nearly to tears.
Attorneys for Parkland, Florida, killer Nikolas Cruz clashed with his prosecutors, saying they should be allowed to ask potential jurors directly about their knowledge and feelings about the Uvalde, Texas, shootings that left 19 students and two teachers dead on Tuesday. The 18-year-old shooter also died.
Those shootings were even brought up unprompted by a potential juror — “We all know what happened yesterday” — drawing nods from many of the other 12 prospects in her group.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 and wounding 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. A jury is being selected to decide whether the former Stoneman Douglas student is sentenced to death or life in prison without parole — a process that has slogged on for almost two months and has at least a month to go before an expected four-month trial. The lawyers have pared 1,900 potential jurors to about 300 as they seek 12 panelists and eight alternates through a three-stage interview process.