Defense lawyers in Parkland school shooting trial unexpectedly rest their case, sparking heated exchange with judge

Lawyers for Florida school shooter Nicolas Cruz suddenly and surprisingly put their case to rest on Wednesday, leading to a heated exchange after a judge accused him of a lack of professionalism.

Defense lawyers had told the judge and prosecutors they would call 80 witnesses, but rested after calling only 25 at the start of Wednesday’s court session. There were 11 days of defense testimony in total, with the last two spotlighting experts about how their birth mother came to be. heavy use of alcohol can occur during pregnancy affected their brain development,

Chief Counsel Melissa McNeil’s sudden announcement led to a heated exchange between her and Circuit Judge Elizabeth Sherer, who called the decision “the most unfair, unprofessional way to try the case” without warning her or prosecutors. Told.

The 12-member jury and 10 alternate members were not present, but lined up outside the courtroom to enter. The sudden announcement also meant that prosecutors were unwilling to launch their rebuttal case.

Mike Saitz raised his hands when Scherer asked if they could start over and said “no” with a nervous laugh.

“We are waiting for 40 more (defense) witnesses,” Saitz said.

Scherer then accused defense attorneys of being inconsistent with all involved, but especially jurors, of ruining a visit to the court.

Sherrer raised his voice, saying, “Take 22 guys to court and wait like it’s some kind of game. I’ve never experienced such non-professionalism in my career.”

School Shooting-Florida
During the penal phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nicolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth Sherer told chief defense attorney Melissa McNeil after McNeil announced her intention to defend her case to rest. Said “non-professional”. , September 14, 2022.

Amy Beth Bennett / AP

“You’re insulting me on the record in front of my client,” McNeil angrily replied, before Scherer told him to stop. Scherer is then placed in McNeill, with whom he has had a testy relationship since pretrial hearings began three years ago.

“You’ve been insulting me throughout the trial,” Scherer told McNeil. “Obviously taking off your headphones, arguing with me, coming out, being intentionally late if you don’t like my decisions. So, quite frankly, it’s long overdue. So please sit down.”

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to the February 14, 2018 murders of 14 students and three staff members at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. His trial, which is now ending its second month, is only to determine whether he has been sentenced to death or life without parole.

After his lawyers rested, he told Scherer under oath that he agreed with the decision.

The subject of her lawyers throughout her case has been to show how her birth mother’s alcohol abuse during her pregnancy affected her. a lifelong path Uncertain, bizarre and often violent behavior that resulted in shootings. He also tried to show that his adoptive mother Linda Cruz was overwhelmed after the death of her husband when he was 5 years old and did not receive proper treatment.

They are trying to get hold of the prosecution’s case, which centered on his massacre as he chased a three-story classroom building for seven minutes with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Chief Prosecutor Mike Saitz played security videos of the shooting and showed the rifle he used. Teachers and students testified to seeing others die.

Satz showed graphic autopsies and crime scene photos and led jurors to a fenced building, which is covered in blood and bullets. Parents and spouses made tearful and angry statements about their loss.

Prosecutors said they would need more than a week to prepare their rebuttal case. The trial is tentatively scheduled to resume on 27 September.

Last month, jurors made a Rare visit to the scene of massacre, Retracing the steps of the cruise through the three-story freshman building known as “Building 12”. A group of journalists after his departure – Including Joan Murray of CBS Miami – Earlier public viewing was allowed to be very fast.

Nothing was changed except the removal of the victims’ bodies and some personal items.

“It was really frozen in time,” Murray Told,

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