Moment ‘The Judge Explodes on ‘Unprofessional’ Parkland School Shooter’s Attorneys For Abruptly Resting Case’ Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz suddenly and surprisingly rested their case Wednesday, leading to a heated exchange after the judge accused them of a lack of professionalism.
The Judge Explodes on ‘Unprofessional’ Parkland School Shooter’s Attorneys For Abruptly Resting Case
Defense attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning of Wednesday’s court session after calling only about 25. There were 11 days of defense testimony overall, the last two spotlighting experts about how his birth mother’sduring pregnancy might have .
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer and lead attorney Melisa McNeill got into an argument over the surprise disclosure, with Scherer describing it as “the most uncalled for, an unethical way to try a case.”
The 12-member jury and the 10 alternates were not in the courtroom, but they were waiting in line to enter. The unexpected announcement also indicated that the defense team was not yet prepared to present its case.
When Scherer asked if they could start, Mike Satz raised his hands and replied, “No,” with a trembling laugh.
“We’re waiting for 40 more (defense) witnesses,” Satz said.
Scherer then accused the defense attorneys of being inconsiderate to all involved, but especially the jurors for wasting their trip to court.
“To have 22 people march into court and be waiting as if it is some kind of game. I have never experienced such a level of unprofessionalism in my career,” Scherer said, raising her voice.
McNeill countered angrily, “You are insulting me on the record in front of my client,” before Scherer told her to stop. Scherer then laid into McNeill, with whom she has had a testy relationship since pretrial hearings began three years ago.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to murdering 14 students and three staff members on Feb. 14, 2018, at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His trial, now ending its second month, is only to determine whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole.
After his attorneys rested, he told Scherer under oath that he agreed with the decision.
His attorneys’ theme throughout their case has been to show how his birth mother’s alcohol abuse during pregnancy put him ontoof erratic, bizarre, and often violent behavior that culminated in the shootings. They also tried to show that his adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz, became overwhelmed after her husband died when he was 5 and never got him the proper treatment.
They are trying to overcome the prosecution’s case, which focused on his massacre as he stalked a three-story classroom building for seven minutes with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Lead prosecutor Mike Satz played security videos of the shooting and showed the rifle he used. Teachers and students testified about watching others die.
Satz showed graphic autopsy and crime scene photos and took jurors to the fenced-off building, which remains blood-stained and bullet-pocked. Parents and spouses gave tearful and angry statements about their loss.
Prosecutors said they will need more than a week to prepare their rebuttal case. The trial is tentatively scheduled to resume on Sept. 27.
Last month, the jurors made a, retracing Cruz’s steps through the three-story freshman building, known as “Building 12.” After they left, a group of journalists — — was allowed in for a much quicker first public view.
Nothing had been changed, except for the removal of the victims’ bodies and some personal items.
“It was really frozen in time,” Murray.