They’ve viewed the carnage. Now they have seen the gun.
Jurors on day six of the penalty trial for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz were shown the AR-15 rifle that the then 19-year-old used to slaughter 17 students and staff members on Valentine’s Day 2018.
The seven men and five women of the jury are charged with deciding whether to give Cruz, now 23, the death penalty or life in prison. They and 10 alternates were shown graphic scenes last week of Cruz methodically shooting fellow students at point-blank range, making sure to finish off wounded victims, as caught on security footage.
The jurors stared transfixed Monday at the gun as lead prosecutor Mike Satz took the semi-automatic Smith & Wesson out of a box and carried it to the front of the courtroom to show Broward sheriff’s Sgt. Gloria Crespo. He asked her if that was the gun she had found on the landing with Cruz’s backpack and his black shooter’s vest, and she said yes.
Cruz had ditched them all in a third-floor stairwell before fleeing the Parkland, Fla., school.
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He already pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder.
It was the first time the jury, and probably many of the victims’ family members, had seen the gun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
As with the video and autopsy photos they saw last week, Cruz’s defense team tried to have the gun excluded for fear of inflaming jurors’ emotions and skewing their judgment.
The defense also objected when Satz put the gun on the floor behind him after showing it to the jury and 10 alternates instead of placing it on an evidence table away from their direct view.
However, Judge Elizabeth Scherer said the images — and the gun — are accurate reflections of Cruz’s crimes and struck down all objections during the trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Also on Monday, Uber driver Laura Zechinni described driving Cruz to the school, ostensibly for a music class, he told her. She said he appeared nervous, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
With News Wire Services