State seeks death for shooter

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world - By David Ovalle

MI­AMI — For mur­der­ing 17 peo­ple in Florida’s worst school shoot­ing, Niko­las Cruz should be sen­tenced to death by ex­e­cu­tion, pros­e­cu­tors say.

The Broward state at­tor­ney’s of­fice an­nounced Tues­day it will seek the death penalty against the 19-year-old gun­man who at­tacked Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High in Park­land last month.

The de­ci­sion was not un­ex­pected, and it came one day be­fore Cruz is sched­uled to be ar­raigned on 17 counts of first-de­gree mur­der. A Broward grand jury last week in­dicted Cruz on those counts and an ad­di­tional 17 counts of at­tempted mur­der.

The Park­land mas­sacre has sparked a wave of stu­dent ac­tivism, re­newed po­lit­i­cal tension over gun con­trol and even spurred the nor­mally firearm­friendly Florida Leg­is­la­ture to pass a law tight­en­ing ac­cess to the weapons.

The crim­i­nal case against Cruz is just be­gin­ning and is likely to last years. Armed with plenty of eye­wit­nesses who knew the shooter, video sur­veil­lance and a con­fes­sion, pros­e­cu­tors have plenty of ev­i­dence to con­vict Cruz of the shoot­ing.

But a death sen­tence is no guar­an­tee. Un­der re­cently changed Florida law, 12 jurors must now agree unan­i­mously to send Cruz to death row. For decades, only a ma­jor­ity rec­om­men­da­tion was needed.

Broward’s pub­lic de­fender said Cruz will not con­test guilt but will fo­cus on per­suad­ing a jury to spare his life. His le­gal team will fo­cus on Cruz’s long his­tory of men­tal­health trou­ble, missed warn­ing signs about his po­ten­tial for vi­o­lence and tu­mul­tuous fam­ily life.

Cruz’s case will be heard Wed­nes­day be­fore Broward Cir­cuit Judge El­iz­a­beth Scherer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.