Miami – The selection of the jury in the sentencing phase against Nikolas Cruz, confessed author of the shooting death of 14 students and 3 employees of a high school in Parkland, Florida, will begin again due to an error by Judge Elizabeth Scherer when wrongly exempt 11 potential candidates.
Faced with a motion from the Prosecutor’s Office, Scherer admitted this Monday that there was an error in asking 11 possible members in the first week of jury selection if they could “follow the law”, to which they replied no and the magistrate exempted them.
According to Local 10, Scherer “summarily” dismissed the 11 potential jurors without Cruz’s defense being able to question them individually, prompting an outcry from defense attorneys.RELATED
With this error, according to local media, Judge Scherer, of the Broward County Circuit, in southeast Florida, canceled two weeks of work by the Prosecutor’s Office and the defense, forcing them to start the entire process again this Monday.
During a hearing today in a court in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami, prosecutor Carolyn McCann argued that what has happened “rises to the level of reversible error” and that it would be best to start over, which means eliminating all panels from the first six days.
“The error has been investigated and this is a capital case (possible death penalty). What happened on April 5, when they were asked if they could follow the law and then raise their hands, it stands to reason that it had everything to do with the death penalty,” McCann added.
The prosecutor, representing the state of Florida, pointed out that “there are too many problems right now” and that it would be best to start over.
“We are going to start again,” said the judge when granting the motion of the Prosecutor’s Office.
The complex process of selecting the 12 jurors that will have to recommend Cruz’s death sentence by lethal injection or life imprisonment without the right to parole had an unusual outcome on April 11, when the 60 people interviewed were excluded.
It was the first time an entire panel of potential jurors had been ruled out in the trial of Cruz, now 23, who shot 17 people to death and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Those who pass the first round will have to answer questions from the defense and the prosecution about the death penalty and whether they are able to listen to the evidence against Cruz and continue to maintain their impartiality when recommending the sentence.
Since Cruz pleaded guilty last October in a Fort Lauderdale court, the trial can only end in a death sentence or life in prison without parole.
For capital punishment, the 12 votes of the jury are needed and if there is a diversity of opinions, which is the objective that the defense intends to achieve, Cruz will continue in jail, but he will save his life.
The accused has been detained since the same day of the shooting, on February 14, 2018, and in the first police interrogations he confessed to having been the author of the shooting in his school, until he was expelled for indiscipline and bad behavior.