FORT LAUDERDALE – In a failed try to bar the admission into proof a number of swastikas Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz drew on assignments, his attorneys made an uncommon argument Thursday at his penalty trial: he was an equal alternative killer who shot his victims with out regard to race or faith.
The attorneys informed Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer outdoors the jury’s presence that the Nazi image creates such robust anger and revulsion that permitting the panel to see his drawings violates his proper to a good trial as a result of there isn’t any proof that his 2018 homicide of 17 folks at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High was pushed by bigotry. Those killed and the 17 wounded included white, Black, Hispanic and Asian folks, Christians and Jews.
They additionally listed the quite a few occasions they requested Scherer earlier than jury choice to rule on whether or not the swastikas could be admitted, saying her failure affected the questions they requested potential jurors and their trial technique. They requested for a mistrial, which Scherer angrily rejected, calling their argument “disingenuous.”
She and prosecutors identified that the protection was not in opposition to admitting drawings Cruz made that included a gross slur used in opposition to Black folks, which they stated is equally offensive. The 12 jurors and 10 alternates embody people who find themselves white, Black, Asian and Hispanic.
Cruz, 23, pleaded responsible in October; the trial will solely decide whether or not he’s sentenced to dying or life with out parole. The jury have to be unanimous to impose a dying sentence.
His public defenders are in their second week of presenting testimony about Cruz’s troubled life – from his delivery to a crack-addicted, hard-drinking prostitute who put him up for adoption to a childhood fraught with emotional and psychological issues that witnesses stated have been by no means adequately addressed.
Their protection technique is geared toward counteracting the emotional, grotesque and graphic proof and testimony the prosecution offered over three weeks because it laid out the killings and the way Cruz deliberate the assault.
The swastikas have been drawn on English assignments given by Carrie Yon, who taught Cruz in eighth grade at Westglades Middle School 4 years earlier than the taking pictures. Cruz had been in particular schooling courses for his habits issues, however was now being allowed into some mainstream courses like Yon’s.
Yon testified Thursday that she normally returned a pupil’s materials on the finish of the school year, however saved Cruz’s as a result of she needed to doc his habits considering it may be wanted in some unspecified time in the future. She additionally made contemporaneous notes. She turned the fabric over to the attorneys after the shootings.
On assignments proven in court docket Thursday, Cruz wrote curse phrases and homosexual slurs and drew pictures of stick figures taking pictures one another and having intercourse. He as soon as wrote to Yon, “I hate you. I hate America.”
She stated Cruz would yell out in class, flash his center fingers, throw objects and make threats. He as soon as informed her “You better give me a good grade on this assignment” and one other time lunged at her after which laughed. He hit different youngsters throughout one hearth drill and ran out into the road in one other, nearly getting hit by a automobile.
She stated she tried working with Cruz by giving him sweet and compliments when he behaved. One time, she praised him for doing his project, telling him she knew he might be pupil. He replied, “I’m a bad kid. I want to kill.”
On one evaluation, Yon wrote, “I strongly feel Nikolas is a danger to the students and faculty at this school. He does not understand the difference between his violent feelings and reality.”
She stated she initially thought Cruz was making an attempt to get consideration from academics and different college students, however got here to consider he needed to get kicked out of school as a result of he had no mates and couldn’t do the work.
She incessantly complained about Cruz to directors and confirmed them his assignments, however some weren’t useful. She stated one informed her, “He has a right to an education. He has a right to be here like any other kid.”
A particular schooling instructor informed Yon she was too terrified of Cruz, that she wanted to “get in his face” and inform him, “Hit me, go ahead and hit me.” Yon stated she refused to do this.
When requested if in her 12 years as a instructor if she ever had one other pupil who acted like Cruz, she had a easy response.