Florida jury sworn in to determine school shooter’s penalty

Jun 29, 2022, 11:03 AM | Updated: 4:04 pm
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury...

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury selection in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. The jury that is seated will decide whether Cruz is sentenced to death or receives life without parole for murdering 17 people at the school on Feb. 14, 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The jury that will decide whether Nikolas Cruz should get the death penalty for killing 17 people in the 2018 shooting rampage at a Parkland, Florida, high school was finally selected Wednesday, after a painstaking, stop-and-start process that took nearly three months.

The defense wound up using all 10 of its peremptory challenges, eliminating candidates for any reason other than race or gender, while the prosecution used four. On Wednesday, the defense used its final strikes to eliminate a retired insurance company executive and a banking executive who had been tentatively on the panel when court adjourned Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer shot down the defense’s attempt to use a peremptory to eliminate a Black man who said during jury selection he did not believe in the existence of “white privilege” — the argument that white people get certain societal advantages because of their race. Scherer agreed with the prosecution’s argument that the defense’s reasoning showed racial bias.

The seven men and five women who were chosen will return to court July 18 for opening statements along with the 10 alternates who were also chosen. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, meaning the expected four-month trial will only decide if he receives a penalty of death or life in prison without parole. If one juror opposes death, the former Stoneman Douglas student will receive a life sentence.

The panel will have a task never faced by a U.S. jury — no American mass shooter who killed at least 17 people has ever made it to trial. Nine others died during or immediately after their shooting attacks, killed either by police or themselves. The suspect in the 2019 slaying of 23 at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial.

The 12 members of the main jury are:

1. A computer worker for a municipal government. He formerly worked in construction and owns a handgun. He said during jury selection he had no opinion on the case and only remembers the original headlines, but that “was not good data.”

2. A bank vice president. He is a former officer in the French military and does not own any guns.

3. A probation officer. He said he is a military veteran. He said he had no strong opinion on the death penalty, but realizes “some people are very passionate about it.” He was not asked about gun ownership.

4. A Walmart store stocking supervisor. He has a cousin who knew Cruz in high school. He said that he could be fair about the death penalty, but “either way it goes, this person should get whatever they have coming to them.” He was not asked about gun ownership.

5. Another computer technician for a municipal government. He owns a handgun and a rifle and said he once had an unpleasant experience with a police officer, but was not asked to elaborate.

6. An insurance claims adjuster for a major health care provider. She does not own any guns. She said she is not opposed to the death penalty, but voting for it “would be difficult.”

7. A librarian. She said both of her children had criminal charges about 12 years ago, but “they were stupid. They outgrew it.” She said that while she could vote for the death penalty, it “doesn’t seem to be stopping any murders.” She does not own a gun.

8. A human resources professional for a medical supplies company. She moved to Florida in 2019 and has a Ph.D. in business. She is a board member for a group that advocates for people with mental illness. She owns a handgun.

9. A legal assistant at a small law firm that mostly does personal injury cases. She previously worked for a prosecutors’ office in central Florida. She does not own a gun. She said the death penalty is appropriate in the most serious cases, but it shouldn’t be automatic. “We need to look at everything.”

10. A U.S. Customs officer. He served four years in the U.S. military. He did not specifically say if he owned any guns, but said in the military he qualified on a dozen different firearms.

11. A man who now works in his family’s export business after earning his degree in business with an emphasis in entertainment. He said he has forgotten a lot of details about the Stoneman Douglas shooting. He was not asked if he owns guns.

12. A woman who works as an investigator for a private firm. She said that if she were the ruler of an island, she would not have the death penalty but could vote for it. She was not asked if she owned any guns.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

From left, Moscow-appointed head of Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo, Moscow-appointed head of Zaporiz...
Associated Press

Putin illegally annexes Ukraine land; Kyiv seeks NATO entry

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to illegally annex more occupied Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of his seven-month invasion. Ukraine’s president immediately countered with a surprise application to join the NATO military alliance. Putin’s land-grab and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s signing of what he said is an “accelerated” NATO […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Only a few scoops are left in a mother's next to last can of baby formula in Laurel, Md., on...
Associated Press

US outlines plan for long-term baby formula imports

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Friday unveiled their plan to allow foreign baby formula manufacturers to stay on the market long term, an effort to diversify the nation’s tightly concentrated industry and prevent future shortages. The Food and Drug Administration said recent entrants to the U.S. market will have until October 2025 to make […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Gun owners, rights groups challenge Connecticut firearms ban

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year, gun rights groups and firearms owners have launched another attempt to overturn Connecticut’s ban on certain semiautomatic rifles that was enacted in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A new lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court by three gun […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

In your debt: 3 steps to lower the cost of your debt

Does the thought of dealing with your debt make you want to go back to bed? More than 1 in 5 Americans (22%) are likely to put off creating a debt payoff plan, according to a June 2022 survey from NerdWallet conducted online by The Harris Poll. That’s a lot of procrastination, and it’s no […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Authorities: Texas man shoots 2 migrants near Mexico border

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two brothers — including one who has been a warden at a detention center that has housed immigrants — have been arrested in Texas after authorities say one of them opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one man and shooting a woman in […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair Lael Brainard speaks during a conversation with leaders fro...
Associated Press

Brainard warns US rates to stay high, notes global impact

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard said Friday that U.S. interest rates will likely have to remain high for an extended period to combat inflation, capping a week of tough rhetoric by Fed officials. In remarks at a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Brainard said that international […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Florida jury sworn in to determine school shooter’s penalty