As expected, Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer deleted or altered several questions the defense wanted to ask prospective jurors in the death penalty sentencing trial of the Parkland school shooter.
The questionnaire, released Tuesday in response to media requests — and over the objection of the defense — does not include a defense-proposed question about whether they or a family member has been a victim, witness or otherwise involved in child abuse or neglect.
Nor does it ask if they or family members have experience with children with emotional, behavioral or developmental problems, as the defense had requested.
Also deleted: questions about whether potential jurors had experience with a host of mental health issues, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and brain damage — two of several factors the defense will argue should give jurors reason to spare the life of the killer of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.
And, as she said she would at a pretrial hearing, Scherer deleted a defense question seeking to ask if they or anyone close to them had sought mental health care.
The state pointed out the defense could ask each person that themselves, if they chose to, when the panel of potential jurors is winnowed in a process called individual voir dire, which could begin as soon as May 2.
While the defense wanted to ask if they heard public figures, family members of the dead or those who were injured in the attack share opinions on the case or an appropriate sentence, the judge combined and broadened those questions into one asking if they had seen or heard anyone speak out on those issues.
About 245 Broward County residents were asked to fill out the questionnaire after they passed the first round of jury selection, which dealt only with whether sitting in a months long trial would present them a hardship or extreme inconvenience. More than 860 others were dismissed after they said they could not do that without severe hardship.
Opening statements in the proceedings are now set to begin on Monday June 13.