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Jury selection began Monday for the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, who pled guilty to the deadly 2018 Parkland school shooting.At least 20 total jurors will be picked so that there are plenty of alternates throughout the trial, Judge Elizabeth Scherer said. The final panel will be made up of 12 jurors plus eight alternates. At least 1,500 potential jurors are going to be screened throughout the process by both the prosecutors and defense attorneys. The 34 charges Cruz faces include murder, attempted murder, and those related to the possession and discharging of a weapon.Cruz sat between his attorneys, wearing a gray sweater and an anti-viral face mask, four sheriff’s deputies sitting nearby. He spoke only briefly, waiving his right to participate directly in the screening process.Eight parents and other family members of some victims sat together in the courtroom.When prospective jurors are brought back in a few weeks, they will be asked whether they can judge the case fairly. They also will be asked if they can vote for the death penalty if the evidence supports that verdict, but don’t believe it should be mandatory for murder. Those who can’t will be dismissed.Seven other U.S. killers who fatally shot at least 17 people died during or immediately after their attacks, either by suicide or at the hands of police.Video below: Cruz pleads guilty in court Death penalty trials in Florida and much of the country often take two years to start because of their complexity, but Cruz’s was further delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive legal wrangling.Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, died in the attack, said the trial “has been a long time coming.””I just hope everyone remembers the victims,” he said. Cruz, he said, “told the world his plans on social media, carried out those plans in a cold and calculated manner and murdered my beautiful daughter, 13 of her classmates and three of her teachers.”Video below: Body camera of arrest of Nikolas Cruz releasedThe parents and spouses of victims who have spoken publicly said they are in favor of Cruz’s execution. Montalto has not answered the question directly, but has said on multiple occasions that Cruz “deserves every chance he gave Gina and the others.”When the prospective jurors who pass the initial screening return for individual questioning several weeks from now, both prosecutors and the defense can challenge any for cause. Scherer will eliminate candidates who lawyers from either side have convinced her would be prejudiced against their side. Each side will also get at least 10 peremptory strikes, where either can eliminate a candidate for any reason except race or gender.The death penalty is still on the table for Cruz. If one juror disagrees with the death penalty, Cruz will spend life in prison. Video below: Cruz interrogation video released If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, call 211 or the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.This article contains information from The Associated Press.

Jury selection began Monday for the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, who pled guilty to the deadly 2018 Parkland school shooting.

At least 20 total jurors will be picked so that there are plenty of alternates throughout the trial, Judge Elizabeth Scherer said. The final panel will be made up of 12 jurors plus eight alternates. At least 1,500 potential jurors are going to be screened throughout the process by both the prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The 34 charges Cruz faces include murder, attempted murder, and those related to the possession and discharging of a weapon.

Cruz sat between his attorneys, wearing a gray sweater and an anti-viral face mask, four sheriff’s deputies sitting nearby. He spoke only briefly, waiving his right to participate directly in the screening process.

Eight parents and other family members of some victims sat together in the courtroom.

When prospective jurors are brought back in a few weeks, they will be asked whether they can judge the case fairly. They also will be asked if they can vote for the death penalty if the evidence supports that verdict, but don’t believe it should be mandatory for murder. Those who can’t will be dismissed.

Seven other U.S. killers who fatally shot at least 17 people died during or immediately after their attacks, either by suicide or at the hands of police.

Video below: Cruz pleads guilty in court
Death penalty trials in Florida and much of the country often take two years to start because of their complexity, but Cruz’s was further delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive legal wrangling.

Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, died in the attack, said the trial “has been a long time coming.”

“I just hope everyone remembers the victims,” he said. Cruz, he said, “told the world his plans on social media, carried out those plans in a cold and calculated manner and murdered my beautiful daughter, 13 of her classmates and three of her teachers.”

Video below: Body camera of arrest of Nikolas Cruz released

The parents and spouses of victims who have spoken publicly said they are in favor of Cruz’s execution. Montalto has not answered the question directly, but has said on multiple occasions that Cruz “deserves every chance he gave Gina and the others.”

When the prospective jurors who pass the initial screening return for individual questioning several weeks from now, both prosecutors and the defense can challenge any for cause. Scherer will eliminate candidates who lawyers from either side have convinced her would be prejudiced against their side. Each side will also get at least 10 peremptory strikes, where either can eliminate a candidate for any reason except race or gender.

The death penalty is still on the table for Cruz. If one juror disagrees with the death penalty, Cruz will spend life in prison.

Video below: Cruz interrogation video released

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, call 211 or the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.

This article contains information from The Associated Press.

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