Jury Selection Process To Resume For Nikolas Cruz Penalty Trial

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – The jury selection process for the penalty trial of Parkland school gunman Nikolas Cruz is set to resume Monday morning after a week-long delay.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer put the process on hold last week after Cruz’s lead attorney Melisa McNeill was absent due to an illness.

Last Monday, before the process was put on hold, a group of potential jurors who were previously dismissed was brought back.

Judge Scherer had dismissed them earlier after they said they could not follow the law and reach a fair verdict. The defense, however, objected and said they should have had the chance to further question the potential jurors.

Of the 10 potential jurors brought back, nine were excused after saying serving would be a hardship. The tenth was moved to the second round of questioning.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 and wounding 17 at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

The jurors who are selected will decide whether aggravating factors — the multiple deaths, the planning Cruz put into the killings and the cruelty with which they were carried out — outweigh mitigating factors such as the defendant’s lifelong mental and emotional problems, possible sexual abuse and the death of his parents.

For Cruz to be executed, the jury must vote unanimously for death. If one or more vote against it, he will be sentenced to life without parole.

Opening statements are currently scheduled for mid June, the trial is expected to last several months.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)