Lawyers for the man who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 have released the plan of what they hope will persuade at least one juror to spare their client’s life.
In an opinion filed Wednesday with the court, they list 32 specific factors they say outweigh the aggravating factors the state will use to persuade jurors that he should die for his crimes.
Jury selection is due to begin February 21 for the sentencing phase of the case, after Nikolas Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Under Florida law, all 12 jurors must unanimously agree to a death sentence or the killer will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Some of the factors the defense will use to make a case for life include:
- He witnessed the death of his adoptive father from a heart attack when the future killer was five years old in 2004 and was later raised by a single mother who abused alcohol and died suddenly 15 weeks before the death. massacre.
- Their brain-damaged client was exposed by his birth mother to illicit drugs, alcohol and nicotine in utero and required resuscitation at birth as alcohol caused a neurodevelopmental disorder.
- Immature for his age with poor social skills, he was bullied and ostracized by his younger brother and peers and sexually abused by a trusted peer, according to his lawyers.
- Medicated throughout childhood, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, with deficits or delays in memory, motor function, cognition as well as adaptive functioning , executive and independent.
- During the attack he was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance and had a significantly impaired ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform to the demands of the law.
- He was diagnosed with acute psychosis immediately after the murders.
The jury will be asked to weigh these so-called mitigating circumstances and any others that the defense might raise against the aggravating circumstances. circumstance that the state will use to argue for death.
Among these is the heinous, atrocious and cruel nature of his crimes committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated way against dozens of people during lessons in a high school.