Parkland Shooting

Jury Selection Hits New Stride in Sentencing Phase of Parkland School Shooter

Judge hopes for 150 jurors to choose from but only 15 picked so far

NBC Universal, Inc.

Jury selection for the sentencing of convicted mass murderer Nikolas Cruz seems to be gaining a little momentum.

Six of 21 prospective jurors advanced to the next round, Tuesday, compared to nine of 17 on Monday.

The goal is to whittle down nearly 400 jurors to 150 which could take at least five weeks at the current rate. More than 1,600 were screened in the first phase that began April 4.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer has urged lawyers to pick up the pace.

Many of the jurors said what was anticipated. They would need to hear more about the case before reaching a decision on the appropriate life-or-death punishment for the 23-year-old.

The 32nd juror to be questioned over two days wanted to know what was going on inside Cruz’s head when he fatally shot 17 and wounded 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018.

“I want to know the triggers, the mental state, what led to the act, the background,” she said.

Two men sitting together were more decisive.

“To be honest, I think he deserves the death penalty,” said juror 31.

“I oppose the death penalty,” said juror 30.

One woman admitted the decision would weigh heavily on her conscience.

“I’m in a situation now where if I’m chosen [for the jury] my finger is on the trigger,” said juror 29. “If I follow the law and have to vote for the death penalty that's something I have to live with.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying to gauge how each person will weigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding the mass shooting.

It would only take one juror to disagree with the death penalty for Cruz to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The sentencing trial is expected to last through October once 12 jurors and eight alternates are chosen. The dozen will have to decide whether Cruz lives or dies for his crimes.

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

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