FORT LAUDERDALE – The final phase of the sentencing trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is scheduled to get underway next week.
Opening statements in the trial are set for Monday, July 18th.
CBS News Miami will stream the proceeding from “gavel to gavel.”
The jury will decide whether Cruz, 23, receives the death sentence or life in prison without parole for the murders of 14 students and three staff members at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Cruzin October to those murders and 17 counts of attempted murder, so the jurors will only decide his punishment. They must be unanimous for Cruz to get the death penalty – if at least one votes for life, that will be Cruz’s sentence.
Eltook nearly three months and began with 1,800 candidates. The selection had been expected to take about a month but was beset by numerous delays because of sickness and other factors.
During the sentencing trial, the jurors will be exposed to graphic evidence, including crime scene and autopsy photos, and tour the three-story classroom building where Cruz methodically stalked the halls, shooting at anyone in front of him and into classrooms. It has not been cleaned since the shooting and remains bloodstained and bullet-pocked, with Valentine’s Day gifts strewn about.
The panel will have a task never faced by a U.S. jury – no American mass shooter who killed at least 17 people has ever made it to trial. Nine others died during or immediately after their shooting attacks, killed either by police or themselves. The suspect in the 2019 slaying of 23 at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial.
The sentencing trial is expected to last about four months.
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