FORT LAUDERDALE — A judge on Wednesday postponed the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to killing 17 people in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, until at least April.
The state’s 17th Judicial Circuit had scheduled the trial to begin on February 21, but prosecutors persuaded Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to give them more time to prepare for the case, which could end in sentencing. to Cruz’s death.
Cruz confessed on October 20, 2021 to the February 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, about 15 miles southwest of downtown Boca Raton.
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Now 23, he lived briefly with a family friend in a trailer park off Congress Avenue near Lantana before taking his AR-15 rifle to the school campus that he used to frequent.
The mass shooting drew international attention and sparked activism around gun laws, school safety and mental health.
In a motion filed in Broward County Court last week, prosecutors said they still have to file more than two dozen witnesses presented by Cruz’s attorneys. A deposition involves the taking of oral testimony under oath and out of court from a witness for the purpose of discovery.
Trial jurors will see evidence that would have been presented and hear from witnesses who would have testified in a criminal trial, if there had been one.
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Each time the sentencing takes place, 12 jurors will decide whether or not to recommend to Scherer that Cruz be sentenced to death. The judge will then have the final decision on whether to sentence the 23-year-old.
Cruz killed 14 students and three staff members and injured 17 others during the seven minutes he prowled a three-story building at the school. He fired at the victims in the hallways and in the classrooms, sometimes returning to the wounded to kill them with additional shots.
He had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas a year earlier after a history of threatening and sometimes violent behavior that dated back to kindergarten.
The Broward County Public Defender’s Office, which is defending Cruz in court, is releasing information to prosecutors “on a piecemeal basis,” according to the state’s motion.
“As a result,” the state wrote to Scherer, “the state cannot take a thorough and complete deposition from the defense experts.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Nikolas Cruz: Parkland shooter’s sentencing trial delayed by judge