parkland school shooting

Lead Defense Attorney Absent From Parkland School Shooting Case

Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill was absent from Monday morning’s jury selection

NBC Universal, Inc.

The sentencing of convicted Parkland mass killer Nikolas Cruz is on hold, again.

Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill was absent from Monday morning’s jury selection.

No official reason was provided, but Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer was heard asking the defense team if McNeill would return Tuesday and about her needing a "test."

“Is she getting a test today?” Scherer asked. No one could say when McNeill would return.

Her boss, Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes, could not officially give a reason for her absence citing her privacy.

The judge asked Cruz if he was comfortable going forward with Monday’s jury screening without McNeill.

Cruz answered, “Yes."

Ten of the 11 prospective jurors, who walked out of the courtroom April 5 after indicating they could "not follow the law" in the life-or-death case, were back in court.

The missing juror was said to be moving to a new home. The Broward Sheriff’s Office will find him, the judge said.

The others were asked if they had any hardships that would prevent them from sitting on a jury for a sentencing trial that’s expected to start June 21 and last through September.

All but one said they could not be away from their jobs, family, and other responsibilities for that long.

The lone juror who said he could be on a panel that long was added to the nearly 400 chosen from among more than 1,600 people who have been screened since April 4.

They have been separated into groups. Group A is expected to return to court May 9 to begin more focused questioning by both the state and defense attorneys.

That could be delayed if McNeill is not available.

When it does begin, those prospective jurors will be asked about their views on the death penalty and how much they know about the case through the international publicity it generated, among other things.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 charges of murder and 17 of attempted murder following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

Click here for complete coverage of the Parkland school shooting jury selection

Contact Us