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Florida jury sworn in to determine school shooter sentence

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) — The jury that will decide whether Nikolas Cruz should receive the death penalty for killing 17 people in the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, was finally selected on Wednesday, after a grueling stoppage. start-up process that took almost three months.

The defense ended up using all 10 of its coercive challenges, eliminating candidates for reasons other than race or gender, while the prosecution used four. On Wednesday, the defense used its latest strikes to eliminate a retired insurance company executive and bank manager who were on the panel for now when the court adjourned on Tuesday.

Circuit judge Elizabeth Scherer shot down the defense’s attempt to eliminate a black man who said during jury selection that he did not believe in the existence of “white privilege” — the argument that white people receive certain societal benefits because of their race. Scherer agreed with the prosecution’s argument that the defense’s reasoning displayed racial bias.

The seven men and five women who were elected will return to court on July 18 for opening statements, along with the 10 deputies who were also elected. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, 2018, meaning the expected four-month trial will only decide whether he receives the death penalty or life without parole. . When a juror opposes death, the former Stoneman Douglas student is sentenced to life in prison.

The panel will have a task never faced by a US jury – no US mass shooter who killed at least 17 people has ever been brought to justice. Nine others died during or immediately after their shooting attacks, either by the police or by themselves. The suspect in the 2019 murder of 23 at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, awaits trial.

The 12 members of the main jury are:

1. Computer employee at a municipality. He used to work in construction and owns a gun. He said during the jury selection that he had no opinion on the case and only remembers the original headlines, but that “not good data”.

2. A vice president of a bank. He is a former officer in the French army and possesses no weapons.

3. A probation officer. He said he is a military veteran. He said he did not have strong views on the death penalty, but realizes that “some people are very passionate about it”. He was not asked about gun possession.

4. A Walmart store supply. He has a cousin who knew Cruz in high school. He said he could be honest about the death penalty, but “any way it goes, this person should get whatever they get.” He was not asked about gun possession.

5. Another computer technician for a municipal government. He is in possession of a pistol and rifle and said he once had an unpleasant experience with a police officer, but was not asked to elaborate.

6. An insurance claims adjuster for a major healthcare provider. She has no weapons. She said she is not against the death penalty, but that it would be “difficult” to vote for it.

7. A librarian. She said both her children were criminally charged about 12 years ago, but “they were stupid. They have outgrown it.” She said that while she could vote for the death penalty, it “doesn’t seem to stop any murder.” She has no weapon.

8. An HR professional for a medical supplies company. She moved to Florida in 2019 and has a Ph.D. in corporate life. She is a board member of a group that stands up for people with mental illness. She is in possession of a gun.

9. Legal assistant at a small law firm that mainly deals with personal injury cases. She previously worked for a state attorney general’s office in central Florida. She has no weapon. She said the death penalty is appropriate in the most serious cases, but should not be automatic. “We have to look at everything.”

10. A US customs officer. He served in the United States Army for four years. He didn’t specifically say whether he owned guns, but said he was qualified in the military on a dozen different firearms.

11. A man now working in his family’s export business after completing his degree in business with an emphasis on entertainment. He said he has forgotten many details about the Stoneman Douglas shooting. He was not asked if he had any weapons.

12. A woman who works as a detective for a private company. She said that if she were the ruler of an island, she wouldn’t get the death penalty, but could vote for it. She was not asked if she had any weapons.

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