The jury was chosen to decide the sentence of a school shooter in Florida

A jury of seven men and five women was pre-selected on Tuesday for a criminal trial to decide whether Florida school shooter Nicholas Cruz should be sentenced to death or sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 attack on 1,800 candidates.

The jurors were selected by a final group of 53 candidates from prosecutors and lawyers. The chosen ones survived three rounds of interrogation, which began on April 4th and continued through numerous delays caused by illness and other factors. Eight of the 10 deputies were elected before District Judge Elizabeth Scherer closed the hearing late Tuesday.

The jury will be finalized on Wednesday. Both sides still have unpaid challenges that could change the final composition of the main panel – the defense has two and the prosecution has six.

The jury will decide whether the 23-year-old Cruz will receive the death penalty or life without parole for the murders of 14 students and three employees at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, 2018. Introductory statements, originally expected in May, are now scheduled for July 18.

Cruz pleaded guilty in October to the killings and 17 counts of attempted murder, so jurors will decide only his sentence. They must be unanimous for Cruz to receive the death penalty – if at least one votes for life, it will be Cruz’s sentence.

The jurors currently in the main panel are two bank executives and two technology workers, a probation officer, a human resources specialist and a warehouse supervisor at the Walmart store. Also included are a librarian, a medical claims regulator, a legal assistant, a customs officer and a retired insurance director. The defense used a late imperative challenge as deputies were elected to remove a retired health chief executive who had originally sat in the main panel.

At least five currently own weapons.

The panel will have a task that an American jury has never faced – not a single American mass gunman who killed at least 17 people has reached court. Nine others died during or shortly after the shooting, killed either by police or by themselves. The suspect in the murder of 23 in 2019 in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial.

In the first phase of the selection of jurors, the future participants in the panel were simply asked if their employment and living circumstances would allow them to serve the four months during which the trial is expected to continue. About 80% were eliminated because their employers would not pay them, they were self-employed or had planned school obligations or vacations.

In the second phase, the remaining 300 participants were asked for their views on the death penalty and whether they could be fair to Cruz. Finally, about 85 were asked about their lives and work histories, whether they could bear to see a horrific crime scene and autopsy photos, and even if they played violent video games and believed that white people had advantages in society that were not available to racial minorities. .

The selection process has been suspended several times. One day, the sheriff’s deputies guarding the courtroom thought that some potential jurors were about to attack Cruz and pulled him to safety as they quickly removed the threatening participants. The next day, Scherer had to fire a group of potential jurors because one was wearing a T-shirt pointing to the shooting, which supported the victims and survivors. The election was also postponed by two weeks when attorney general Melissa McNeill contracted COVID-19.

The jurors will be exposed to graphic evidence, including crime scene photos and an autopsy, and will walk around the three-story classroom building, where Cruz was methodically lurking in the halls, shooting at everyone in front of him and in the classrooms. He was not cleared of the shooting and remained bloodied with bullets and scattered gifts for Valentine’s Day.

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