Parkland shooter case resumed

In light of new evidence and discussion, the sentencing trial of the now 23-year-old Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has been further postponed, raising the probability of a mistrial.

Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, pleaded guilty and was charged with 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder, as well as 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder, for the mass murder shooting on February 14, 2018.   

The case has been further delayed since the incident’s initial occurrence in light of several concerns regarding former events. The Covid-19 virus has had an immense impact on the ability to continue the case in court. The courthouses had to shut most of their operations down due to a prohibition set in mid-March of 2020. The prohibition restricted hearings, as well as conferences from being held in courthouses. Prison access and legal visitations were also suspended from March 2020 until April 2021.

Opening statements have been pushed back until late June. Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer has approved a prosecution motion to restart jury selection centered upon the abrupt dismissal of 11 jurors from the case. She overturned her decision and ordered the jurors to be recalled for further questioning. Separately, an additional panel of jurors had been removed from the courthouse, following a threat made directed toward the defendant. When the court reconvened on May 2, jury questioning was moved aside for an extra week as the outcome of a health issue related to one of Cruz’s lawyers.

The postponement will present both parties more time to prepare for a pre-trial hearing on the acceptance of intricate neurological evidence.

Many of the victims’ families, as well as other opinionated civilians, are pushing toward the direction of the death penalty. Legal experts on the case claim that Cruz is aiming to persuade the jury in the sense that by pleading guilty he is assuming some responsibility for his conduct.  

“He’s trying to save his life, and the only way to do that is to take responsibility and not put all these poor people through a trial,” criminal defense attorney Marc Shiner said.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, in 2012 three people faced capital punishment and were put on death row or received capital resentencing trials in Broward County.  This put Broward in the 1 percent most populous county using death row in the United States. Broward judges have imposed three more death sentences since then. A review done by the Death Penalty Information Center discovered that only 0.5 percent of U.S. counties imposed more death sentences during that period. Is Nikolas up for death trial punishment?

“Going for the death penalty will not bring our loved ones back to us,” father of victim and geography teacher Scott Beigel said. “It will not make the physical scars of those wounded go away. In fact, what it will do is to continue the trauma and not allow the victims to heal and get closure.”

In regards to the future of the trial, there is still a possibility of additional prolongment, but the facts and details indicate Cruz will be sentenced to either the death penalty or a life sentence in prison. The case will be closed in a matter of time, and the survivors, as well as the Victims’ families, may rest with peace of mind and reassurance that Nikolas will pay for his crimes.