NewsParkland Shooting


Jurors weighing life or death for Nikolas Cruz ask to listen to testimony from sentencing trial

After listening to read back from defense expert, jurors decline to listen to prosecution expert
Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 17:19:09-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A jury of seven men and five women is now deliberating to decide the fate of convicted Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

After listening to jury instructions from Judge Elizabeth Scherer, jurors began deliberating Wednesday in the penalty phase of Cruz's murder trial.

The jurors, who are tasked with recommending either the death penalty or life in prison for Cruz, asked if they could once again listen to the testimony of Dr. Paul Connor, a defense expert, and Dr. Robert Denney, a prosecution expert.

Both men offered differing opinions on the long-term effect of brain damage that Cruz may have suffered because of his birth mother's drug and alcohol use while she was pregnant with the eventual murderer of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day in 2018.

Nikolas Cruz as judge reads jury instructions during penalty phase of his murder trial, Oct. 12, 2022
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table for jury instructions in the penalty phase of Cruz's trial on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After listening to a court reporter read back Connor's testimony aloud, the jurors indicated that they no longer needed to hear Denney's testimony.

Scherer said all 12 jurors raised their hands in agreement "that the information that they were seeking was in the cross examination and that any questions that they may have had was answered in the cross examination that was just read back and that they no longer needed Dr. Denney's testimony."

Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty last year to the murders of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

For Cruz to be sentenced to death, each juror must agree that Cruz deserves to be executed for at least one of the 17 victims. If there is no unanimous decision, Cruz would instead spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors will be sequestered until they reach a decision.