Miami News

Parkland Shooter’s Penalty Phase May Last for Up to 6 Months

The now 23-year-old Parkland shooter awaits trial to decide his punishment

On February 14, 2018, the lives of citizens in  Parkland, FL, were forever changed. A shooting at a local high school took the lives of 17 individuals and left 17 more seriously injured thanks to the actions of Nikolas Cruz, aka the Parkland Shooter.  

Cruz opened fire at the high school, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others in addition to that. He was arrested and confessed to all 17 counts of murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder as of October.

What is the penalty phase of this trial?

The trial for this case was divided into two phases; the guilty phase and the penalty. The now 23-year-old Parkland shooter , who was 19 when the trial began, was determined guilty on all counts against him, awaits a decision as to whether he will receive the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The penalty phase will focus on determining the final decision by a panel of jurors, including 12 and 6-8 alternatives. The search for jurors begins Monday. However, according to Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, jury selection may be complicated. This is due to the expected 6-month-long trial period that Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus predicts.  

A gavel and block belonging to a judge are placed on a flat table.

Judgments that are being awaited

The public is awaiting jury selection and final details, but they’re also anticipating the judge’s ruling on whether the jury will receive a tour of the shooting site. The defense argues that a tour of the crime scene is unnecessary and extremely traumatic, while the prosecution argues that the jury must understand the full extent of the crime and its scale.   

The families of the victims have been awarded $127.5 million by the state due to the fact that the FBI was tipped off a week prior by a classmate. The settlement, however, does not officially indicate or accept the fault of the United States in this case.

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