Jury selection begins in sentencing for Parkland high school shooter

Students lay notes and flowers at a makeshift memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., February 14, 2019, one year after 17 students and teachers were slain. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI

April 4 (UPI) — Jury selection began Monday for the sentencing of Nikolas Cruz, the 24-year-old former student who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day, 2018.

Cruz, who was 19 when he gunned down students and teachers, was arrested soon after the massacre.

In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Cruz was found to have made threatening comments on social media that were reported to the FBI.

A month after the shooting, prosecutors announced their intent to seek the death penalty following a grand jury’s indictment of Cruz. He pleaded guilty last October in the shooting deaths of 14 students and three school staffers, and attempted murder for injuring 17 others.

Cruz also pleaded guilty to attacking a Broward County sheriff’s deputy while in jail. He has been sentenced to nearly 26 years in prison on charges related to that fight.

Once selected, 12 jurors will decide whether Cruz will serve life in prison without possibility of parole or be sentenced to death.

For Cruz to get the death penalty, all 12 jurors would have to agree.

Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was killed in the shooting, told Miami’s Local 10 in October that it’s time to speed up the process of getting justice for the families.

Officials say the juror pre-selection process will run three days weekly through the end of May, except for a break from April 14 to 24.

The process screens out people who can’t serve for various reasons, including having made up their minds about the case, or where there are obvious conflicts of interests, like friends of the Parkland shooting victims.

Nikolas Jacob Cruz. Photo: Broward County Jail

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