April 26 (UPI) — A Florida judge ruled Monday that jury selection in the sentencing for Parkland, Fla., high school gunman Nikolas Cruz will start over.
Cruz killed 17 people in the Valentine’s Day 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer threw out two weeks of court proceedings after suggesting she made a mistake. Scherer said she should have questioned 11 jurors who had said they would not follow the law before she dismissed them. The judge said there was a “miscommunication,” when the jurors failed to show up Monday.
Scherer agreed with the state of Florida after it filed a motion to strike the current jury pool and start over, citing what the state called “not a harmless error” in the proceedings.
“There’s too many issues. At this point, it’s better to just start fresh”, said Assistant State Attorney Carolyn McCann.
Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill argued against the motion.
“At this time, the defense believes that the motion is premature and we are not in agreement with the state’s request.”
Scherer had dismissed a total of 250 potential jurors out of a pool of 1,200 for what is expected to be a four-month sentencing trial. The trial will likely be delayed again, after it was pushed back from May to June.
Jurors must decide whether Cruz will be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A death sentence requires a unanimous verdict.
Cruz was 19 when he gunned down students and teachers at his former school. He pleaded guilty to the crimes in October. 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.