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Prosecutors seek interview of juror after alleged threat by another juror in Nikolas Cruz sentencing trial

'Juror X' claims 'during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror,' motion says
Judge Elizabeth Scherer reads verdict in Nikolas Cruz sentencing trial, Oct. 13, 2022
Posted at 6:51 AM, Oct 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 14:03:51-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Prosecutors have asked the Broward County circuit judge who presided over Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz's sentencing trial to allow law enforcement to interview a juror who claims she felt threatened by another juror during deliberations.

Broward County Assistant State Attorneys Carolyn McCann and Carolyn Bandklayder filed a motion requesting that Judge Elizabeth Scherer let law enforcement interview "Juror X" about the possible crime.

The motion was filed Thursday, just hours after a jury couldn't unanimously agree that Cruz should be executed for killing 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day in 2018.

According to the motion, "Juror X" called the state attorney's office and asked to speak with Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz, who was the lead prosecutor during the trial.

Michael Schulman greets Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz after closing arguments in penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz murder trial, Oct. 11, 2022
Michael Schulman greets Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz after Satz finished his closing argument in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Schulman's son, Scott Beigel, was killed in the 2018 shootings.

"Juror X spoke to a support staff member and informed the support staff member that during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room," the motion said.

Instead of calling the juror back, the motion said, prosecutors filed a notice to the court and have requested that "an interview be granted to investigate this serious allegation because a crime may have been committed."

Prosecutors said in their motion that the court "has a duty to investigate this allegation."

Meanwhile, jury foreman Benjamin Thomas told WPLG that more than one juror voted for life in prison instead of the death penalty.

"We went through all the evidence and some of the jurors just felt that was the appropriate sentence," Thomas said. "I didn't vote that way, so I'm not happy with how it worked out, but everyone has the right to decide for themselves."

He said he feels bad for the families of victims and that "it hurt" to watch the decisions being read in court.

One of those jurors, Denise Cunha, sent a handwritten letter to Judge Elizabeth Scherer defending her vote for a life sentence and denying that she intended to vote that way before the trial began.

"This allegation is untrue and I maintained my oath to the court that I would be fair and unbiased," Cunha wrote. "The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life."