Mitch and Annika Dworet sat calmly in the courtroom Tuesday as several jurors expressed anger toward the man convicted of killing their son Nick and 16 others at a high school in Parkland.
They smiled but had no comment afterward.
“Maybe some other time,” said Mitch Dworet.
This wasn’t the first time they attended the screening of jurors for the life-or-death sentencing of Nikolas Cruz, but it was the most boisterous, if not potentially dangerous.
A man identified as juror 19 allegedly made eye contact with Cruz and was heard muttering something, according to Broward Sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom.
As deputies escorted him out of the courtroom, he was overheard saying, "that's horrible."
Parkland School Tragedy
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer held a sidebar discussion with all the attorneys and then dismissed the jury pool of 70. A few were heard clapping.
Juror 19 was separated from the other jurors in the corridor outside the courtroom.
He told a deputy, "You traumatized us all," as jurors gathered by the elevators.
Juror 19 was separated farther away from the group and was heard saying, "I want to break down. I want to cry. I want to curse that POS off. I wasn't trying to cause any problems. He's just a piece of (expletive)."
Back in the courtroom, the judge explained that juror 19 was cursing under his breath which upset juror nine, then juror 25 got riled up.
It started to spread among other jurors and there was a concern juror 19 would come back and perhaps lunge at Cruz, Scherer said.
Deputies saw what was happening and stepped in to remove him.
"This group was belligerent," said Scherer. "The whole group started to get mouthy."
Juror 19 was allowed to leave after the other jurors had already left the 17th floor of the Broward County courthouse.
A third and final group of 70 prospective jurors was brought in to complete the day’s screening.
In all, about 50 of 210 potential jurors made it to the next round of the selection process on Tuesday.
So far, an estimated 400 potential jurors have been chosen from more than 1,600 people over eight days.
The judge has shifted the start of the sentencing trial again. It was originally scheduled for May 31 then June 13 and Tuesday she mentioned June 21.
It may be delayed yet again depending on the outcome of a defense motion scheduled for Wednesday morning.
The judge granted the state’s motion, Monday, to strike some 250 jurors already chosen during the first six days of selection citing a procedural error.
That error hinged on ten prospective jurors walking out of the courtroom April 5 after stating they “could not follow the law” with regard to the life-or-death penalty phase. They were supposed to return to court Monday to be re-screened, but the judge said a miscommunication delayed that until next week.
The defense team is expected to argue that all jurors chosen so far should be considered for the next round of screening.
Scherer told the defense team on Monday she would give them the opportunity to change her mind.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 charges of murder and 17 of attempted murder following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.