NewsParkland Shooting


Jury selection in Nikolas Cruz sentencing case delayed again

Lead defense attorney continues to be absent from court
Nikolas Cruz in court during jury selection for penalty phase of murder trial, May 9, 2022
Posted at 10:45 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 16:41:30-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jury selection in the sentencing phase for the Parkland gunman was back in court Monday, but once again it was only a brief meeting.

The case had been paused since May 2 after lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill was not in attendance last week for an undisclosed reason.

Nearly five weeks after being dismissed on day two of jury selection by Judge Elizabeth Scherer, the 11th potential juror — who said he could not follow the law and reach a fair verdict — was brought back into court Monday.

However, he is self-employed as a software engineer, so he was excused for financial hardship and does not have to report back to court.

The 10 other potential jurors, who were dismissed on April 5 after saying they could not follow the law, were brought back last week. Nine of those 10 were excused for hardships.

McNeill was not in attendance again Monday. It is still unclear why she has not been in court for more than a week but apparently, it's for some type of undisclosed illness.

Since she was not in attendance, the court is in recess until May 16 and jury selection is delayed again.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer, May 9, 2022
Judge Elizabeth Scherer questions the eleventh juror about his hardship during jury pre-selection in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, May 9, 2022. Cruz previously plead guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings.

In the meantime, the judge has asked the attorneys to compile lists of chosen jurors who have made it past the first round.

Jury selection began in early April, but little progress has been made due to a misstep by Scherer and subsequent delays for the last few weeks.

Testimony isn't scheduled to begin until at least June 21.

Nikolas Cruz has already pleaded guilty to killing 17 people during the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.