Parkland prosecutors ask for investigation after juror says she was threatened


Prosecutors within the Parkland college bloodbath case are calling for legislation enforcement to interview a juror who stated she felt threatened by one other juror throughout deliberations over Nikolas Cruz’s punishment for the 2018 South Florida killings, a courtroom submitting reads.

The request comes after a jury Thursday stored Cruz from getting the dying penalty, recommending life in jail with out parole by default when it didn’t unanimously agree Cruz ought to get capital punishment.

The state’s new movement asks Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to compel legislation enforcement officers to interview the juror who reported feeling threatened. It doesn’t determine the juror and doesn’t point out which sentence the juror supported.

The juror known as prosecutors Thursday after the jurors’ choice was learn in courtroom, in keeping with the courtroom submitting obtained by CNN.

“Juror X spoke to a help workers member and knowledgeable the help workers member that in deliberations she obtained what she perceived to be a menace from a fellow juror whereas within the jury room,” the submitting says. “The State didn’t name Juror X again and as a substitute, filed a Notice to the Court.”

It shouldn’t be clear whether or not Scherer will adjust to that prosecution request. A listening to for the state’s movement is about for 1:30 p.m. Friday, in keeping with the county’s courtroom docket.

The movement is the most recent indication of behind-the-scenes rigidity among the many jury in a monthslong sentencing trial, whose final result enraged some victims’ households. On Thursday, a juror wrote a letter to the choose calling the deliberations “tense,” saying some jurors turned “extraordinarily sad” when she talked about she’d vote for life in jail. And in an interview, the jury foreman described disagreement among the many panel, saying three of the 12 jurors opposed the dying penalty on this case.

It shouldn’t be clear whether or not the juror who reported the perceived menace is similar juror who wrote the letter to the choose.

Cruz had admitted to killing 14 college students and three college workers members and injuring 17 others within the Valentine’s Day 2018 taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Because Cruz pleaded responsible to all counts — 17 counts of assassination and 17 counts of tried assassination — the trial section was skipped and the courtroom went on to the sentencing section.

As the jury’s sentencing advice was learn aloud in courtroom Thursday, jurors stared straight forward or gazed into their laps.

Jurors did not look within the route of the visibly emotional victims’ households in attendance, lots of whom hoped the shooter would obtain the dying penalty and later expressed bitter disappointment over Thursday’s choice.

The choose is anticipated to concern the gunman’s formal sentence on November 1 and by legislation is unable to deviate from the jury’s advice of life.


The deliberations turned “tense,” a juror wrote within the handwritten letter addressed to Scherer. The juror, who voted in opposition to the dying penalty for Cruz, wrote to the choose that “some jurors turned extraordinarily sad as soon as I discussed that I might vote for life.”

In the letter, the juror additionally denied allegations that she made up her thoughts to vote for life in jail earlier than the trial started, saying she heard different jurors had made such accusations about her.

Of the 12 jurors, three voted in opposition to recommending the dying sentence, jury foreman Benjamin Thomas instructed CNN affiliate WFOR, including, “I do not like the way it turned out, however … that is how the jury system works.”

“There was one with a tough ‘no’ — she could not do it. And there was one other two that ended up voting the identical method,” Thomas stated. The lady who was in opposition to it “did not imagine, as a result of he was mentally unwell, he ought to get the dying penalty,” Thomas stated.

To suggest dying, the jury would have wanted to unanimously agree that aggravating components — causes the prosecution stated he needs to be put to dying — outweighed mitigating circumstances, or facets of Cruz’s life and upbringing the defence stated warranted solely life in jail.

The jury didn’t unanimously agree on this, which means Cruz have to be sentenced to life in jail with out chance of parole.

During the sentencing trial, prosecutors argued that any mitigating components had been overshadowed by what they described as Cruz’s exceptionally brutal and heinous acts. They offered detailed proof to help their claims that Cruz fastidiously deliberate and premeditated the assault. The prosecution rested their case after jurors toured the nonetheless blood-stained college constructing the place the bloodbath occurred.

Cruz’s attorneys painted the shooter as a severely “damaged” one that suffers from various psychological and developmental points that weren’t adequately handled when he was rising up.


Victims’ family members had been overwhelmed with rage and disbelief after listening to the decision, and lots of denounced the choice as insufficient punishment given the extraordinary losses they’ve suffered.

The 14 slain college students had been: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Luke Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 14.

Geography trainer Scott Beigel, 35; wrestling coach Chris Hixon, 49; and assistant soccer coach Aaron Feis, 37, had been additionally killed — every whereas operating towards hazard or making an attempt to assist college students to security.

Alyssa’s mom instructed CNN Friday she was shocked by how rapidly the jury’s choice got here — on the second day of deliberations.

“I simply would have needed the jurors to spend extra time going by means of the proof, actually making an attempt to persuade … all 12 jurors that this animal needs to be getting the dying penalty,” Lori Alhadeff stated.

“They had time, and so they actually ought to have gone by means of the proof. It virtually makes me really feel like that there was anyone that already had this notion … that they had been by no means going to provide the dying penalty,” Alhadeff stated.

Hixon’s widow, Debra Hixon, instructed CNN Thursday that when she realized the killer would not obtain the dying penalty, she felt like she had been punched within the chest.

“What hurts essentially the most is that there’s a perception that any mitigating circumstances might outweigh what he did to our family members,” Hixon stated, including, “Because the best way it comes out is that his life has extra worth than those who had been murdered.”

Public defender Gordon Weekes urged the neighborhood to respect the jury’s choice.

“This day shouldn’t be a day of celebration, however a day of solemn acknowledgment, and a solemn alternative to mirror on the therapeutic that’s essential for this neighborhood,” he instructed reporters.

But a number of households had been insistent that the jury’s choice doesn’t ship them peace. The mom of Helena Ramsay, a 17-year-old senior, additionally denounced the jury’s advice.

“After spending months and months listening, and listening to testimonies, and looking out on the assassin — his composure — I imagine justice was not carried out,” Anne Ramsay stated. “The flawed verdict was given out in the present day.”

Some relations additionally continued their pleas for gun coverage reform to stop the rising specter of gun violence in American faculties, together with Gina Montalto’s father.

“While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the legislation — it is not going to cease our mission to impact constructive change at a federal, state and native degree to stop college taking pictures tragedies from shattering different American households,” Tony Montalto stated.


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