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The jury selection for the school killer in Florida is entering its second phase

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The jury selection for the school killer in Florida is entering its second phase

FORT LODERDALE, FL (AP) – The selection of the jury in the penalty shootout over the school shooter from Florida Nicholas Cruz became the second …

FORT-LAUDERDAYLE, FL (AP) – The selection of jurors in the trial of Florida school shooter Nicholas Cruz on Monday entered the second phase, when lawyers asked questions to potential jurors, and one candidate compared it to an interview for “the hardest work” in my “life”.

Lawyers asked jurors about their views on the death penalty and knowledge of the February 14, 2018 shooting at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which killed 14 students and three staff members.

In October, the 23-year-old Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder, so the 12 jurors who will eventually be selected will decide only whether he is sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole. Eight alternatives will also be selected.

During the morning hearing, Cruz’s lawyer, Casey Sekor, delved into persuading potential jurors through an interrogation that lasted 45 minutes or more, in part because of legal disputes over some of his issues. It took nearly four hours to interrogate the first three potential jurors, the first of a group of 400 people who said during the preview that they could serve from mid-June to September, the scheduled length of the trial. They are expected to return for questioning in the coming weeks.

The prosecution, meanwhile, asked several key questions, and it was done – except that they repeatedly objected when they believed that Sekor’s questions went beyond being too specific to Cruz’s case. Due to the fact that the interrogation of potential jurors took a long time, District Judge Elizabeth Scherer later switched to interrogating jurors in groups due to the objections of Cruz’s lawyers.

The opposing strategies of the parties became apparent from the first interviewed potential juror, a woman of about 40 years. As long as the names of potential jurors are announced in court, the Associated Press does not use them to protect their privacy during the trial.

The woman told Attorney General Mike Satsu that although she is familiar with Stoneman Douglas’ executions, she does not know many details. She told him she could follow the law and, if necessary, be sentenced to death.

Sekor, a specialist in the death penalty, asked the woman if she had been the ruler of the island, whether there would have been the death penalty on it. She said she would not. When asked why, the woman paused for a few seconds.

“I understand that some actions are simply inexplicable,” she said. “But I’m just a person, right? And I don’t have the strength to understand what made someone commit the act. No one has such power but God. … Nothing will return the victims. ” Due to the objections of the prosecutor’s office, her interview lasted almost 90 minutes. She underwent an examination and was told to return for the third and final round of interrogation in a couple of weeks.

The prosecution or defense may ask Scherer to dismiss the juror for a reason if they can convince her that the candidate may not be fair to them. Each party also has 10 mandatory tasks to dismiss a juror for any reason other than race or gender. Because of the complexity of the case, Scherer said she could give each side more.

To be elected, jurors must agree that they can set aside their knowledge of the case and base any decision on what will be presented in court. They must also agree that they can carry out the death penalty if they believe the evidence requires it, but also do not believe that all murderers should be punished.

Under Florida law, jurors must decide whether aggravating factors prevail that will bring charges, such as the number of victims, Cruz’s planning and the brutality he demonstrated, mitigating factors such as his long history of mental and emotional problems, his possible sexual and sexual abuse. parents. For Cruz to receive the death penalty, the sentence must be unanimous. If even one juror disagrees, he will receive a life sentence without parole.

A second potential juror, a woman in her 20s, said the death sentence “is an important decision that requires a lot of attention”. But she also believed that sentencing a first-degree murderer to death “is the most sensible position.”

“Like an eye for an eye,” she said. But during Sats’ interrogation, she said she did not believe the death penalty should be automatic. She was fired after the defense objected.

A third potential juror, a man in his 60s, said his cousin was recently released from prison after 40 years for killing someone when they were teenagers. He first said he could face the death penalty if the prosecution made its case. But when he was pressured by Sekor, the man indicated that the death penalty could be an appropriate punishment for Cruz.

“It’s much higher than anything any of us have ever thought about. It is not one person and one victim, ”he said. “It’s a massacre – what else could it be?” He then referred to Saturday’s murder of 10 people in Buffalo, New York, allegedly an 18-year-old teenager, saying: “It seems to be happening in our country.” He was told to return for further questioning.

In all, 10 of the 17 jurors passed the second stage on Monday and will be returned to the third round.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

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