Parkland shooter prosecutors called for an investigation after jury said it felt threatened by another jury member

Prosecutors for the Florida school shooter Nicolas Cruz called for an investigation on Friday after a juror said another panelist had threatened him during deliberations. ended with life imprisonment For 17 people killed Four years ago at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Prosecutor Carolyn McCann told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Sherer during a brief hearing that prosecutors were not trying to invalidate Thursday’s jury vote and only reported the threat for security reasons and so the Broward County Sheriff’s Office could investigate. .

In their written motion for hearing, prosecutors said that the juror told them that another juror had done something during the deliberations that “he considered a threat.”

McCann said he didn’t ask any further questions because he didn’t want to sabotage any investigation and said the Broward State Attorney’s office had no intention of getting involved any further.

“We don’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole,” she said.

Scherer agreed that if a possible crime had been committed, deputies should investigate. The information has been handed over to the sheriff’s investigators, who will contact the juror.

Verdict Comes in Confessed Gunman Nicholas Cruz Trial for the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Mass School Shooting in Parkland, Florida
Judge Elizabeth Scherer reads out the verdict in the trial of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooter at the Broward County Courthouse on October 13, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Amy Beth Bennett / Getty Images

Florida criminal defense attorneys Richard Escobar and David Weinstein, both former prosecutors, said in interviews that even if the jury was threatened, the jury’s decision could not be reversed because of the double threat, or the same defendant. Trying twice. Crime.

Weinstein pointed to a 1990s case involving two drug kingpins who bribed a jury and were acquitted. Even under that circumstance, prosecutors could not retry the two for drug trafficking, but convicted them on charges stemming from bribery.

Scherer said two jurors tried to talk to her after Thursday’s decision was announced, but said she told them it would not be appropriate.

Scherer said a bailiff told her later that a juror wanted to talk to her while reading the judgment on Thursday. During the 50-minute reading that juror sat down, there was nothing obvious to indicate that he wanted Sherer’s attention. When the jurors voted, they agreed that the sentence of life imprisonment is the decision of the panel.

Jury members told local TV stations that the final vote was 9–3 for death, with one in three voters for life she would never change her mind. Under Florida law, the death penalty requires a unanimous vote, and jurors decided that there was no point in continuing the deliberations.

That means Sherer will sentence the shooter to life without parole at a November 1 hearing – a sentence that has yet to be announced. many families of the victims Angry, amazed and in tears. He will be allowed to address the shooter during the hearing.

Verdict Comes in Confessed Gunman Nicholas Cruz Trial for the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Mass School Shooting in Parkland, Florida
Debbie Hixon reaches out to her sister-in-law, Natalie Hixon, as they hear that the murderer of Debbie Hixon’s husband will not receive the death penalty as the verdict in the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooter trial at the Broward County Courthouse is announced. October 13, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Amy Beth Bennett / Getty Images

jury foreman Benjamin Thomas “It really came down to one specific (juror) that he (Cruise) was mentally ill,” he told local reporters.

24 years old confessed a year ago For killing 14 Stoneman Douglas students and three staff members and injuring 17 others on February 14, 2018.

The jury unanimously agreed that there were aggravating factors to warrant a possible death sentence, such as agreeing that the killings were “particularly heinous, brutal or brutal”.

But one or more jurors also found mitigating factors, such as untreated childhood problems caused by their birth mother’s excessive drinking during pregnancy. In the end, the jury could not unanimously agree that aggravating factors outnumbered suppressors.

The jurors had pledged during the selection process that they could vote for the death penalty, but some parents, some of whom attend the trial almost daily, wondered whether they were at all honest.

A juror sent a short handwritten note to the judge on Thursday in which she defended her vote for a life sentence and denied that she intended to vote that way before the trial began.

She wrote, “The deliberations were very tense and once I mentioned that I would vote for life some of the jurors were deeply saddened.” He didn’t explain his vote. McCann said he was not the jury member who reported the potential threat.

Thomas did not say whether the Atal Jeevan vote was his.

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