Jurors in the death penalty trial for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz viewed graphic video Tuesday of him murdering 17 people as he stalked through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago.
The video was not shown to the gallery, where parents of many of the victims sat. The 12 jurors and 10 alternates stared intently at their video screens. Many held hands to their faces as they viewed the 15-minute recording.
The disturbing video was captured by school surveillance cameras, but did not record any sound.
Jurors watched the video from their seats silently in courtroom. Some started squirming. One juror looked at the screen, looked up at Cruz with his eyes wide and then returned to the video.
Parkland School Shooting
Some family members for victims killed in the shooting remained in the Broward County courtroom as the video evidence played for jurors. An emotional Max Schachter, father of Alex Schachter who was one of the 17 killed, was seen covering his face during the portion of the trial.
The video was played over the objection of the gunman’s attorneys, who argued that any evidentiary value it has is outweighed by the emotions it would raise in the jurors. They argued that witness statements of what happened would be sufficient.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer dismissed the objection, saying a video that accurately reflects the gunman’s crimes does not unfairly prejudice his case.
After jurors finished watching the video, prosecutors filled in the gaps left by the soundless surveillance footage by calling several students to the stand who where shot and survived the school shooting.
"I remember feeling trickling down the back of my head and onto my chest and then I touched the back of my head and my head was all bloody," Alex Dworet testified in the courtroom. "I realized something's wrong, but I still didn't want to believe that it was shooting or anything."
Dworet's brother, Nicholas, was killed in a classroom right across the hall.
Attorney's for the school shooter have decided to wait until the state has presented all of its witnesses and evidence before giving opening statements and making its case for a life sentence.
Cruz pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder, and 17 more counts of attempted murder for those he wounded. The jury must decide if he should be sentenced to death or life without parole for the nation’s deadliest mass shooting to go before a jury.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.