The Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which occurred over four years ago, was one of the deadliest mass-shootings in American history. After all this time, the confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz is finally set to be sentenced for his crimes.
Judge Elizabeth Scherer of Broward County has estimated that sentencing will take between four to six months. Within the limits set by Florida law, Cruz will either receive a life sentence or the death penalty.
Earlier in the year, Cruz pleaded guilty to all 17 murders.
“I’m very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day,” said Cruz.
The penalty phase of the trial is set to begin Monday with jury selection. The group will decide if Cruz is set to spend the rest of his life in jail or be sentenced to death.
They will need 32 jurors — 12 who will decide the sentence, plus 20 alternates.
Lawyers hashed out the details. They argued over the value of allowing the jurors to tour the place where the murders took place: the freshman building at MSD.
The defense said no.
“The crime scene in and of itself is so prejudicial, the emotions they experience would render them unable to be fair and impartial, or so traumatized that’s what they’d be focused on,” said defense attorney Melisa McNeill.
The defense team said they created their own video of the building.
“We took three areas and sanitized it, it looks as if it would have looked before the incident happened,” said McNeil. “All personal items removed, blood, body fluids, all that stuff.”
The prosecutors argued that it was tantamount to the defense by creating its own evidence.
“Now they want to sanitize it? I don’t think so. This is a crime scene,” said prosecutor Carolyn McCann.
What the jurors might see is only a part of the evidence they’ll be asked to examine to determine Cruz’s fate.
“There were 17 people killed. There is an essence of story about the death of 17 different people, and then there are 17 more who are considered aggravating factors, and there is story as to how they were injured,” said another prosecutor.
The process is expected to take weeks, with 1,500 potential jurors arriving daily.
“He brings in 50 or 60 at time. I think we are going to do 60,” said Scherer.
Wednesday and Thursday, the judge and attorneys will be going over last-minute details. They will discuss the challenges of seating a jury for a case of this magnitude.
It will take a unanimous decision by the jury for Cruz to be sentenced to death.