Parkland verdict latest: Juror ‘threatened’ during deliberation over Nikolas Cruz prison sentence
Parkland shooting: Nikolas Cruz listens as verdict read out in court
A juror in Nikolas Cruz’s sentencing trial allegedly informed a court staffer that she was threatened by a fellow panel member during deliberation over the Parkland shooter’s fate.
Prosecutors raised alarm about the perceived threat in a filing asking Judge Elizabeth Scherer to launch an investigation hours after the jury recommended a life sentence for Cruz on Thursday.
“Juror X spoke to a support staff member and informed the support staff member that during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room,” states the filing, obtained by CNN.
The development comes as other members of the jury have spoken of their frustration at being unable to convince a sole “holdout” that Cruz deserved the death penalty.
Foreperson Benjamin Thomas told CBS Miami that one juror had been adamant from the beginning of deliberations that Cruz should not receive capital punishment because he was mentally ill.
The juror has since denied claims in a filing to the court that she had made up her mind about the sentence before hearing the evidence.
Family members of the victims of the shooting have packed into the public gallery ahead of the verdict.
Lawyers for both sides are present, but Cruz is yet to be brought into the courtroom.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 15:21
Nikolas Cruz killed 14 high school students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Victims of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, high school massacre
Nikolas Cruz has pleaded guilty to the 2018 shooting massacre that left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 15:27
Cruz enters court
Nikolas Cruz, initially wearing a Covid-19 face mask, is brought into the courtroom by law enforcement.
He is having a conversation with his defence counsel, Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeil, before proceedings begin.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 15:31
Reminder: The jury must reach a unanimous decision to recommend the death penalty. If not, their recommendation will be life in prison with no parole.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 15:44
Court now in session
Court is now back in session Judge Elizabeth Scherer presiding.
Both sides agree they are ready to bring in the jurors for the verdict.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 15:50
Verdict forms being read
As each of the 17 verdict forms is read out by Judge Scherer, it is so far looking as if the jury has not reached a unanimous decision on the death penalty.
The jury so far has said the evidence of aggravating factors in his murders exist but did not outweigh the mitigating circumstances.
This would indicate a life sentence with no parole.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 16:07
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 16:08
The prosecution only needs the jury to recommend a death sentence for one of the 17 victims. So far the jury has not unanimously come to that decision
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 16:14
The verdict sheets continue to be read out and still, there is no charge in which the aggravating factors have outweighed the mitigating factors.
The jury is saying that while the prosecution has proven that the aggravating factors warrant the death penalty, Cruz’s mental health issues outweigh that.
There is still no death penalty possible at this point.
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 16:27
Families react as life in prison looks increasingly likely
Oliver O’Connell13 October 2022 16:30