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The jury pool narrows for more individual interviews

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As the Parkland school shooter sat yards away from him in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom, a man told lawyers on Wednesday that he didn’t think he could be a fair juror.

The man said he worked as a carpenter at Broward County Public Schools. The job helped increase security after Nikolas Cruz shot dead 34 people with an AR-15 rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

The man said he visited dozens of BCPS buildings to help change locks. This allowed teachers and administrators to lock the doors from either the inside or the outside in the event of a threat.

A woman, faced with questions from lawyers, could not contain her emotions.

“I see you tearing up a bit,” responded Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, Cruz’s lead attorney. “We understand that.”

Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October. Jury selection for the death penalty trial began on April 4. The court screened hundreds of Broward County residents on jury duty hard excuses. The narrowing down of the jury pool continued with individual interviews death penalty.

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District Judge Elizabeth Scherer reported that about 60 prospective jurors without hardship apologies who had already answered questions about the death penalty were ready to proceed with additional interviews beginning the week of June 21. Scherer needs 18 to 20 jurors – 12 in the jury box and deputies.

The process allows defense and prosecution attorneys to gather information on how each team can best use the ten chances they have to clear potential jurors.

Lawyer David S Weinsteina partner at Jones Walker LLP who has been prosecuting the case said the court is looking for a jury who will put aside everything they know, listen to what is allowed in the courtroom and use common sense.

“What’s important here is that it only takes one vote to steer this judgment one way or the other,” Weinstein said.

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For Cruz to be sentenced to death, all 12 jurors must agree. Otherwise, Scherer has no choice but to sentence him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/06/08/school-shooters-death-penalty-trial-jury-pool-narrows-for-more-individual-interviews/ The jury pool narrows for more individual interviews

Sarah Y. Kim

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