parkland school shooting

Jury Selection in Parkland School Shooter's Penalty Trial to Be Delayed: Judge

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said at a hearing Wednesday that jury selection in the trial of Nikolas Cruz will have to be delayed after prosecutors said they need more time to prepare

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The judge presiding over the penalty trial of the Parkland school shooter said she has no choice but to delay jury selection until at least the first week of April.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said at a hearing Wednesday that jury selection in the trial of Nikolas Cruz, which had been set to begin on Feb. 21, will have to be delayed after prosecutors said they need more time to prepare.

Prosecutors said the delay is necessary because the defense has only recently begun forwarding evidence that their experts will rely on to argue that Cruz should not receive the death penalty for the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

Those reports need to be reviewed by state experts and then prosecutors can depose the defense experts, something the state argues it needs to do before jury selection.

The Feb. 21 start date was too soon, prosecutors said in their motion.

"I don’t think I have a choice but to delay this trial," Scherer said. "I am inclined to give more time, but not very much."

Scherer recessed Wednesday's hearing so the state and defense could confer on how long the start of the sentencing phase should be delayed. After the recess, Scherer said she would seek to begin jury selection in the first week of April, but no specific date was set.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 murders and 17 attempted murders, but a jury will decide whether he is executed or receives a life sentence without parole. All 12 jurors must agree for the former Stoneman Douglas student to receive a death sentence. The trial is expected to last at least two months.

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