One of the jurors who voted for life in the Parkland trial sent a letter to the judge, denying accusations from other jurors that she made her decision ahead of the trial.
The juror, in the letter to Broward Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer, said that another member of the 12-person jury heard others who voted for the death penalty “stating that I had already made up my mind on voting for life before the trial started.”
“This allegation is untrue and I maintained my oath to the court that I would be fair and unbiased,” she wrote. “The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life. I just wanted to make you aware of this matter.”
The jury on Thursday rejected the death penalty and instead recommended to sentence Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a decision that angered family members of the victims. Cruz pleaded guilty last year to killing 17 people in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Broward County. It’s the deadliest school shooting in Florida history.
Three people on the 12 person jury voted for life, and one of them was a “hard no” for the death penalty because of Cruz’s mental illness, Benjamin Thomas, the foreman, told Miami Herald news partner CBS Miami. Florida and all other states in the U.S., except Alabama, require a unanimous verdict to sentence someone to death, as the Miami Herald has reported.
Cruz’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.