Parkland shooting - live: Jury shown more graphic videos in Nikolas Cruz death penalty sentencing trial

·42 min read

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018, is facing the penalty phase of the trial for his crimes.

Cruz, a former student at the school, was just 19 when he went on a shooting spree in what proved to be one of the deadliest school massacres in US history.

He subsequently surrendered to police and pleaded guilty to 17 charges of first-degree murder and 17 of attempted murder.

Cruz was a member of the school's air rifle team who had been expelled over his disciplinary record. He had arrived at the school with a legally purchased AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and murdered 14 students and three staff members, injuring 17 more. The shooting sparked a nationwide protest movement demanding tighter gun control measures.

While prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cruz, his attorneys are hoping for a life term.

WARNING - Graphic content: Video captured by students has been played in court with audio broadcast publicly, and survivors have recounted their experiences that day.

Key Points

  • Gunman Nikolas Cruz faces sentencing for Parkland massacre

  • 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018

  • 12-member jury to weigh death penalty versus life in prison

  • Cruz pleaded guilty to his crimes in October

  • Jury shown horrific videos of massacre from student’s phones and CCTV cameras

Survivor tells of lingering side effects of injuries

23:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Parkland survivor Samantha Fuentes testified on Tuesday that her injuries left her with lingering problems after the deadly shooting.

“I don’t have the same range of motion or stamina as I once did when I was more able-bodied,” she told the court.

Parkland victims remembered ahead of shooter’s sentencing trial

22:01 , Oliver O'Connell

Chris Hixon was murdered along with 16 other people in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. His widow Debbi Hixon tells The Independent’s Rachel Sharp how she hopes the sentencing trial of his killer will finally enable her family to start to grieve.

Parkland victim’s widow speaks out ahead of his killer’s sentencing trial

Parkland school teacher describes shooting

21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Parkland school teacher Dara Hass cried during her testimony about the events of 14 February 2018, recalling injured students, a frantic call to 911, and a room filling with smoke.

Court adjourns for the day

20:37 , Oliver O'Connell

After a day of harrowing testimony from survivors of the 2018 shooting, several of whom were injured when Cruz opened fire through their classroom doors, the court has adjourned for the day.

The penalty phase of the trial will resume at 9am tomorrow morning.

New witness: Michael Powell

20:27 , Oliver O'Connell

Michael Powell is a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who has been with the school for six years.

On the day of the shooting, he was in charge of the “personalisation class” or study hall.

Mr Powell recalls hearing three loud booms. He initially thought it was a drill as they had been told there would be one at some point following some training the month before.

He told the kids in the class to move into an alcove beside the door away from the line of sight from the window in the door.

As the noise continued he realised that the situation was not a drill. Checking the door he let a boy into the room and then four girls who had been hiding in the bathroom opposite. There were now approximately 30 kids in the classroom and he turned off the lights and made sure they were around the corner from the door.

He remembers the fire alarm was going off and it felt like the shots were going off all around them.

New witness: Ana Martins

20:17 , Oliver O'Connell

After the afternoon recess, the next witness was in room 1215 shortly before Cruz began his attack on the school.

Ana Martins, who was 14 at the time, testified she returned to the classroom from the bathroom with a friend, chatting briefly with Gina Montalto who was in the hall working on her laptop while they waited for someone to unlock the classroom door.

Back in the classroom, two boys in the hallway knocked on the door to be let in — Luke Hoyer and Martin Duque. She was reaching for the door handle when the first shots rang out. Sophia pulled her away from the door before she could open it and they hid under the teacher’s desk.

Ms Martins says they heard more shots and screams and someone begging for the door to be opened. The fire alarm went off before the police came to evacuate them.

Gina, Luke, and Martin were all killed.

Ana Martins testifies about the Parkland high school shooting at the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial (CBS12 News)
Ana Martins testifies about the Parkland high school shooting at the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial (CBS12 News)

Next witness: Samantha Fuentes

19:35 , Oliver O'Connell

Fellow student Samantha Fuentes who was also in the same class and was injured is now on the stand.

When shots rang out and everyone dispersed, Ms Fuentes realised she was exposed and crawled across the floor towards a wooden podium as shots began to enter the room.

Ms Fuentes recalls being hit and temporarily losing her vision and hearing. She could see Cruz standing at the window of the door when the shooting stopped. The two students who died, Nick Dworet and Helena Ramsay, were laying on the ground beside her. She and other students checked their pulses but they had passed away.

She had holes in her pants and blood in her eyes and in her hair from her injuries and when police evacuated them they told her to look up not down, but she still saw two bodies in the hallway.

Ms Fuentes had a gunshot wound above her knee and shrapnel in various parts of her body - including behind her eye. She doesn’t have the same range of motion or stamina that she once did.

Samantha Fuentes testifies about her injuries during the Parkland high school shooting at the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial (Law & Crime)
Samantha Fuentes testifies about her injuries during the Parkland high school shooting at the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial (Law & Crime)

New witness: Samantha Grady

19:21 , Oliver O'Connell

Samantha Grady goes to Nova Southeastern University as a pre-Med biology major.

She graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2019. Ms Grady was also in the History of the Holocaust class.

When the gunshots were first heard, Ms Grady didn’t move at first not knowing if it was real. She recalls Helena Ramsay tapping her on the shoulder to get her to move.

She and Helena tried to get behind the filing cabinets that other students had moved but there was no room, so they stayed as close as possible — at one point trying to protect themselves with books.

There were gunshots into the classroom from the hallway and she was injured — a graze on her back and a ricochet into her chest.

Ms Grady remembers other injured people including Samantha Fuentes, and seeing that Nick Dworet and Helena Ramsay, who had been next to her, had been fatally shot.

Cruz is writing or doodling with his head down during her testimony.

New witness: Daniella Menescal

19:10 , Oliver O'Connell

Testifying next is Daniella Menescal who was in the same History of the Holocaust class as Ms Chequer and was also injured. She is now a senior at Boston University.

She recalls talking to a friend when they heard loud bangs. As practiced, they went to the corners of the room and she and the other students moved a filing cabinet for protection.

Ms Menescal was not entirely covered and felt a sharp pain in her back. Looking down she saw her pants were covered in blood.

From her vantage point, she could not see the other corner of the room where other students were sheltering but could see that other students were wounded including Isabelle Chequer.

Ms Menescal also saw that Helena Ramsay and Nicholas Dworet were fatally wounded.

New witness: Isabelle Chequer

18:58 , Oliver O'Connell

Isabelle Chequer is another former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who also now goes to the University of Central Florida where she is soon to graduate.

On the day of the shooting, she was in the History of the Holocaust class in the 1200 building.

She described how the class was finishing group presentations when she heard three or four shots. The class ran into different corners of the classroom and she moved from her spot in sight of the window in the door to another corner and hid behind a filing cabinet.

Ms Chequer was grazed twice by bullets on her right foot and left arm and saw that two students she was sheltering with were also injured.

Looking up she saw that fellow student Helena Ramsay had passed away from her wounds. As they were being taken out of the room she saw that Nicholas Dworet had also been killed. They were both 17 years old.

Nicholas’ brother Alex was in a neighbouring classroom and testified earlier today. He was wounded in the back of the head.

New witness: Dara Hass

18:42 , Oliver O'Connell

Testifying next is Dara Hass, an employee of Broward County Schools, who has worked at Marjory Stoneman Douglas since 201 as an English teacher.

The student survivors who have testified so far today were in Ms Hass’ class on 14 February 2018.

She remembers the students working on an assignment when they heard the initial gunshots. Ms Hass says it happened quickly and she initially thought it was a drill.

Students began screaming and shouting and she saw that Alex Schachter had been hit by gunfire before he could even get up from his desk.

Ms Hass recalls students doing their best to stay safe in a classroom where there was nowhere to go. She remembers the air becoming hazy and debris flying across the room and injured students.

All of a sudden it was quiet. The police came in to retrieve them and she wanted to stay with the students who were injured.

Outside she saw William Olson — who testified earlier — who was covered in blood and in shock and unsure if he was injured. Ms Hass helped him and other students who were badly injured. She recalls them all by name.

Again, Cruz has his hand on his head during her testimony.

New witness: Kheshava Mangapuran

18:26 , Oliver O'Connell

The state’s next witness is Kheshava Mangapuram. He too was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in February 2018 and is now a student at the University of Central Florida.

He recalls not realising what the noise was when it began but then remembers getting under a table when the shooting began through the door of the classroom. He was hit in the side of the stomach.

Mr Mangapuram also saw William Olson, who testified earlier, and Alex Schachter, who died, get hit by shots coming from the doorway.

A second round of shots that he believed to be coming from a neighbouring classroom he later found out was a second attack on the room his class was trapped in.

Who were the Parkland victims?

18:06 , Oliver O'Connell

Cruz killed 17 people on 14 February 2018, including both students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff

35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel

14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano

17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet

37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis

14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg

49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon

15-year-old student Luke Hoyer

14-year-old student Cara Loughran

14-year-old student Gina Montalto

17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver

14-year-old student Alaina Petty

18-year-old student Meadow Pollack

17-year-old student Helena Ramsay

14-year-old student Alexander Schachter

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

15-year-old student Peter Wang.

Charges were 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for those injured.

ICYMI: What happened on day one of the trial?

17:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Josh Marcus reports on the first day of the penalty phase of the trial of Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to all charges relating to the Parkland high school massacre of 2018.

Nikolas Cruz hides face as videos of Parkland massacre shown at death penalty hearing

Former student Christopher McKenna identifies Cruz during testimony

17:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Former student Christopher McKenna identifies Nikolas Cruz as the man whole told him ‘Get out of here! Things are about to get bad!’ moments before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 (REUTERS)
Former student Christopher McKenna identifies Nikolas Cruz as the man whole told him ‘Get out of here! Things are about to get bad!’ moments before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 (REUTERS)

Therapy dogs available at court for victims’ families

16:45 , Oliver O'Connell

With so much traumatic testimony and graphic video evidence making up the state’s case against Nikolas Cruz, two therapy dogs were made available for the families of the victims of the Parkland school shooting.

15:59 , Oliver O'Connell

Court breaks early for an extended lunch break.

The case resumes at 1pm.

New witness: Alex Dworet

15:58 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness is Alex Dworet. He was a student at the school on the day of the massacre and now works for Audi having attended technical college. He was in English class that day.

He heard loud noises coming from the hall and then felt something hot on the back of his head and realised he was in danger and went to the corner of the room.

Mr Dworet saw blood trickling down him and he touched the back of his head and his hand came back bloody.

 (CBS12 News)
(CBS12 News)

He looked over and saw his friend, Alex Schacter aged 14, fatally injured and still half at his desk with blood pooling beneath him.

When police arrived, Mr Dworet was taken to an ambulance to be treated for the injury to the back of his head.

New witness: William Olson

15:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Court resumes and a new witness takes the stand is William Olson.

He was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2018 and was in class in the 1200 building that day and recalls hearing the shots but initially was unsure what the noise was.

Looking over at his friend Alex he sees that he is not moving. He then found himself on the floor in front of the teacher’s desk. He had been shot by Cruz but survived the attack.

Mr Olson’s parents are sitting in court and are visibly upset as their son recounts what transpired that day.

 (Law & Crime)
(Law & Crime)

Once police arrived on the scene, Mr Olson recalls he was able to call his mother using the phone of a friend’s mother and she took him to West Boca hospital.

A photo of Olson’s wounds on his arm is shown to the jury. No questions from the defense.

15:12 , Oliver O'Connell

The court takes a short mid-morning break.

New witness: Christopher McKenna

15:08 , Oliver O'Connell

Christopher McKenna has been called to the stand. He was the student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas that encountered Cruz in the stairwell of the 1200 building before he began his rampage. He is now a second-year college student having graduated from high school in 2021.

On that afternoon in 2018, Cruz told him to get out of the building as things were about to get bad.

He fled the building and found Coach Aaron Feis. They could hear gunshots. The coach said he would go and see what was happening.

A fire alarm went off and students began to flee other buildings. He ran through the neighbouring school and the nearby Walmart and ended up at a friend’s house where he called his father who worked in law enforcement at the time.

Mr McKenna is shown surveillance footage of his movements at the school that day. He is also asked to identify Cruz as the man he saw in the stairwell and points at him.

New witness: Daniel Booth

15:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The state’s next witness is a software engineer for Invigalign, Daniel Booth. He writes software for video recording systems.

He confirms that the raw data from the video surveillance system is the same as the extracted data.

Mr Booth is asked about the dust that fell from the ceiling during Cruz’s attack (caused by the reverberations from the gunshots), he explains that the dust would obscure the movement of people in the distance which would account for any skips in the footage the jury was just shown.

Jury shown surveillance montage of Cruz moving through school

14:50 , Oliver O'Connell

The new video evidence being shown to the jury is a compilation of security camera footage tracking Cruz as he moved through the 1200 building on 14 February 2018.

Unlike yesterday’s disturbing cellphone footage captured by students, it is silent.

Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy reports from the courtroom that jurors are looking upset, covering their mouths in shock at what they see. There is silence in court.

The footage shows Cruz murdering or injuring dozens of students and teachers at high school.

Cruz’s head is down, though he also appears at times to be talking quietly to his lawyer.

New witness: Ron Lowther

14:37 , Oliver O'Connell

The jury is brought in and the state’s first witness of the day is called — Ron Lowther, Broward Sheriff’s office, electronic surveillance technician. He retrieves and processes video evidence and has 24 years of experience.

Like yesterday, a whiteboard has been wheeled into place to block the live feed camera from capturing any videos that will be shown to the jury. Audio will still be heard as when yesterday’s horrific cellphone videos captured by surviving students were shown in court.

Mr Lowther testifies that he was able to put together a linear video feed of Cruz as he moved through the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on 14 February 2018.

He also made similar videos of 22 subjects who were in the building that day to track their movements, circling them to distinguish them when in a crowded situation.

14:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The lengthy sidebar involved a motion by Cruz’s defence team about the playing of graphic video at the trial.

They argued it violated his constitutional rights. Judge Scherer did not agree.

Day two commencing

14:19 , Oliver O'Connell

Day two of the penalty phase of the trial of Nikolas Cruz is beginning.

Cruz has been brought into court and Judge Elizabeth Scherer is presiding.

The day begins with a sidebar between the legal teams and Judge Scherer.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer listens as the state delivers its opening statement during the penalty phase in the trial of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Elizabeth Scherer listens as the state delivers its opening statement during the penalty phase in the trial of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In this trial, sidebars are conducted with headset earpieces and microphones in which the judge and lawyers can communicate directly without anyone having to approach the bench. White noise is played in the courtroom to mask what they are saying to the jury and those in the gallery.

At this point, the jury is yet to be brought in.

Day one: Parkland school killer Nikolas Cruz hides face as horrific videos of massacre played

14:04 , Oliver O'Connell

When Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February, 2018, armed with a high-powered assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that he would use to commit one of the worst mass shootings in US history, he warned a passing student to leave. “Something bad is about to happen,” he told them.

Memories of that horrific day came flooding back on Monday as a Florida court considered whether to give Cruz, now 23, the death penalty, for killing 17 students and teachers and wounding 17 others.

Prosecutors played cellphone video of the shooting, where shots could be heard ringing out and a voice is captured saying, “Someone help me.”

Josh Marcus reports.

Nikolas Cruz hides face as videos of Parkland massacre shown at death penalty hearing

GOP rep mocked for saying he will ‘never’ give up AR-15

13:00 , Oliver O'Connell

GOP Congressman Ronny Jackson provoked fury for daring the Biden administration to “come and get” his AR-15s hours after the release of a damning report into police failures during the Uvalde school mass shooting.

The former White House doctor-turned Maga lawmaker posted a clip to Twitter on Sunday night falsely claiming Democrats were pushing an “insane gun-grab”.

Bevan Hurley reports.

GOP rep mocked for saying he will ‘never’ give up AR-15 hours after Uvalde report

Everything we know about suspected gunman in Indiana

12:00 , Oliver O'Connell

A gunman killed at least three people and injured two others when he opened fire on a shopping mall in Indiana over the weekend.

Police say the shooting took place in the food court at Greenwood Park Mall, about nine miles south of Indianapolis, on Sunday evening.

The suspected shooter - identified on Monday as 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman of Greenwood - was fatally shot by a 22-year-old bystander with a long gun, police said.

Here’s what we know so far.

Everything we know about suspected gunman in Greenwood mall shooting

A timeline of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

10:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018, is now facing sentencing for his crimes.

Cruz – a former student at the institution who had been a member of its air rifle team being being expelled over his disciplinary record – was just 19 when he arrived that day in an Uber bearing a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and gunned down 14 students and three members of staff in what proved to be one of the deadliest school massacres in American history.

Joe Sommerlad reports on the events of that day and beyond.

A timeline of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Parkland school killer Nikolas Cruz hides face after video of shooting played

09:00 , Arpan Rai

Nikolas Cruz, who has pleaded guilty to 17 murder charges and just as many attempted murder charges, buried his head in his hands and appeared to cover his ears as another graphic video of the his shooting rampage was played, where screams and gunshots could be heard, on Monday.

The sentencing trial in the case began as on the first day, prosecutors played cellphone video of the shooting, where shots could be heard ringing out and a voice is captured saying, “Someone help me.”

Cruz had entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February, 2018, armed with a high-powered assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

He used the legally-purchased weapon in the following hours to commit one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

In his warning to passing students, Cruz asked them to leave. “Something bad is about to happen,” he told them.

Read the full story here:

Nikolas Cruz hides face as videos of Parkland massacre shown at death penalty hearing

Six years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for gun safety and LGBT+ rights continues

08:00 , Oliver O'Connell

It’s been six years since Brandon Wolf survived the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando where his best friend Drew was killed. He tells Rachel Sharp of The Independent about the ongoing fight for gun safety and LGBT+ rights.

Pulse nightclub massacre survivor on the fight for gun safety and LGBT+ rights

Prosecutors show Nikolas Cruz’s video before shooting: ‘You’re all going to die'

07:45 , Arpan Rai

Prosecutors in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting showed the jury a video shot by convict Nikolas Cruz and underlined the “cold, calculated, cruel and heinous” murders carried out by the then 19-year-old.

Showing the video, prosecutor Mike Staz said: “This is what the defendant said: ‘Hello, my name is Nik. I’m going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It’s going to be a big event, and when you see me on the news, you’ll know who I am. You’re all going to die. Ah yeah, I can’t wait,’”.

Parkland shooting: All we know about the jury hearing Nikolas Cruz sentencing

07:18 , Arpan Rai

The deadliest mass shooting has been presented before a jury comprising of seven men and five women on Monday in what is expected to be a months-long penalty trial.

This is also the first death penalty trial for circuit judge Elizabeth Scherer.

On reaching the end of trial, the jurors will have to vote 17 times, individually for each of the victims from the school shooting, on whether to recommend capital punishment to convict Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz, who is only contesting his sentence, pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in October.

However, the chosen jury will have to visit the bloodstained crime scene, view graphic photos and videos and listen to the emotional testimonies by the witness presented by the prosecutors. The jury, in a rare for a mass shooting trial, will have to manage entirely on their own without any help.

Judge Scherer will also ask jurors to not talk with anyone about what they have seen, heard or thought and this will be applicable to their best friend, spouses, clergy and even therapists.

The jurors will not be allowed to even discuss their experience with each other until the deliberations begin.

It is not unusual because the move is ordered to ensure the juror’s opinions are not influenced by outsiders.

Nikolas Cruz sentencing: Timeline of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

06:38 , Arpan Rai

The sentencing trial for Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted for shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, commenced on Monday.

At the time of shooting, the 19-year-old had arrived in an Uber with a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in his possession and gunned down 14 students and three members of staff, marking one of the deadliest school massacres in American history.

Here’s a timeline of the horrific shooting rampage that unfolded in Florida, becoming nation’s deadliest mass shooting trials to go before a jury:

A timeline of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Parkland witness Danielle Gilbert tells sentencing jury: ‘Were sitting like sitting ducks'

06:18 , Arpan Rai

Psychology class junior Danielle Gilbert who was present when the horrific shooting began at Florida’s high school told the sentencing jury that the students had no way to protect themselves when the rampage began.

“We were sitting like sitting ducks. We had no way to protect ourselves,” Ms Gilbert, now a student at the University of Central Florida, told the court on Monday.

She said that at least four people were shot in that room, including one who died.

She added that the students were asked by the teachers to sit behind the desks.

The video clips taken by her from inside the classroom were also presented to the jury and the audio disclosed multiple rounds of gunshots being fired. In the video, fire alarms were also sounded.

Sound of a young wounded boy crying, “someone help me” was also heard.

When she finished her witness account, Ms Gilbert broke down in sobs and was escorted out of the courtroom by her father who put his arms around her.

She also broke down on the stand when the audio of gunshots was played out in the courtroom, while jury was also made to look at the video.

Witnesses describe chaos of shooting at Indiana mall food court that left four dead

06:00 , Oliver O'Connell

People were shopping for supplies as their kids get ready to head back to school and workers were close to the ends of their shifts when the Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana became the scene of a deadly shooting that took the lives of four people, including the shooter, and injured two others.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Witnesses describe chaos of shooting at Indiana mall food court

Arguments Cruz’s lawyers can present to lower his sentence

05:50 , Arpan Rai

The Parkland shooting convict Nikolas Cruz, facing his sentencing trial in the deadliest US mass shooting, could face death or life without the possibility of parole.

However, his team can point to several mitigating factors to lower his punishment and state that he has had no criminal history, and that the then 19-year-old was under extreme mental or emotional disturbance.

The attorneys can also tell the jury about whether his capacity to appreciate his conduct’s criminality or conform it to the laws was substantially impaired.

Cruz’s team can present evidence such as:

  • His birth mother abused alcohol and drugs during pregnancy leading to damaging his brain and causing Cruz to be intellectually disabled, which Cruz’s attorneys have maintained. They have linked this to his behavioural problems starting preschool.

  • Sexual abuse by a “trusted peer”

  • Death of adopted father at the age of five in front of him, following which his adoptive mother had to raise him and his brother alone

  • His adoptive mother also abused alcohol and died less than four months before the massacre

  • He was aged 19, immature, when he went on a shooting rampage

Video shows Nikolas Cruz’s reaction as audio of shooting played in court

04:45 , Arpan Rai

The court on Monday played the audio of gunfire by Nikolas Cruz to the gallery where parents of the victims were present. The audio was recorded by witness of the shooting Danielle Gilbert on her cell phone, who was also present in the court.

While the parents and other people attending the hearing could not see the video, the jury was able to see the video of the gunfire opened on the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in Florida.

As the audio was being played out for nearly two minutes, many family members were seen tearing up and some were also seen running out of the court.

What happened during the Parkland massacre?

04:00 , Oliver O'Connell

As the Parkland community braces for the sentencing trial for Nikolas Cruz, the man who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, The Independent’s Rachel Sharp investigates what led up to the massacre and what’s happened since.

Missed warning signs, failings and lessons learned: Nikolas Cruz and Parkland

How did Parkland shooter Cruz react during prosecution opening statement

03:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy describes the reactions of Nikolas Cruz as the prosecution recounted the horrifying events of 14 February 2018.

As the court watched the harrowing video clips taken by survivors of the massacre, Cruz put his head in his hands as he sat flanked by his lawyers.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks down as the penalty phase of his trial gets underway (AP)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks down as the penalty phase of his trial gets underway (AP)

Hero’s widow opens up about trauma as Parkland victims remembered

02:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Chris Hixon was murdered along with 16 other people in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. His widow Debbi Hixon tells The Independent’s Rachel Sharp how she hopes the sentencing trial of his killer will finally enable her family to start to grieve.

Parkland victim’s widow speaks out ahead of his killer’s sentencing trial

Five bystanders shot when Denver police open fire at man with gun

01:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Police officers shot and injured five bystanders when they opened fire into a bustling crowd early after a man pointed a gun in their direction, the Denver Police Department said.

Early on Sunday morning, a group of police officers were patrolling a popular nightlife area in downtown Denver as bars began to close. One man in the crowd, 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, reportedly pointed a gun in the direction of police, leading the officers to draw their own weapons and open fire while bar-goers continued pouring onto the streets.

Johanna Chisholm has the story.

Five bystanders shot when Denver police open fire on man with gun in crowded street

'It’s very difficult to listen to’

Tuesday 19 July 2022 00:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Watch Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy recap the opening statement of prosecutor Michael Satz on the first day of the Nikolas Cruz sentencing trial for the Parkland high school massacre.

Indiana mall shooting: Gunman identified as four dead and two injured

Monday 18 July 2022 23:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The suspect in the Indiana mall shooting that left three people dead and two others injured has been identified as 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman.

Sapirman, of Greenwood, was killed after he opened fire in the Greenwood Park Mall on Sunday evening, police announced Monday.

The three innocent victims killed in the shooting were also named as Pedro Pineda, 56; Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37; and Victor Gomez, 30. All three were from Indianapolis.

Police identify 20-year-old gunman in Indiana mall shooting that left four dead

Monday 18 July 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Court in recess for the day

Monday 18 July 2022 21:32 , Oliver O'Connell

The state’s next witness is not due in town until this evening and so court is breaking early today.

The jury is excused for the day by Judge Scherer.

New witness: Gaton Nieves

Monday 18 July 2022 21:27 , Oliver O'Connell

Gaston Nieves takes the stand. He is a digital video examiner for the FBI and has been in the role for 18 years.

Mr Nieves’ role is to protect, extract and examine digital evidence from anything that stores such assets.

He also identifies the server from the school and explains that when they took custody of the server they changed the password for easier access.

New witness: Carlos Castello

Monday 18 July 2022 21:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness is Carlos Castello, a retired special agent with the FBI.

In February he was sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to take custody of the video server.

The server was removed to the FBI building in Miramar, Florida.

New witness: James Kessler

Monday 18 July 2022 21:16 , Oliver O'Connell

The state’s next witness is James Kessler who manages the video surveillance systems for the Broward County schools board.

He identifies images of the server used to record video from the school and confirms it was handed over to the FBI.

New witness: Maximo Rosario

Monday 18 July 2022 21:05 , Oliver O'Connell

The state calls its next witness, Maximo Rosario, the current director of classroom technology for the Broward County Department of Education. He was previously assistant principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He is asked about the installation and functionality of the school’s motion-triggered security camera system.

Defence move for mistrial denied

Monday 18 July 2022 20:57 , Oliver O'Connell

After the broadcast to the court of video footage of the massacre, the defence team moves for a mistrial based on an outburst from one of the people in the gallery of the courtroom and the volume of the videos played.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer as the state delivers its opening statement during the penalty phase trial of Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (AP)
Judge Elizabeth Scherer as the state delivers its opening statement during the penalty phase trial of Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (AP)

Judge Scherer denies the motion saying that she could not hear what was said in the outburst nor by whom, but activated the court’s white noise machine to mask sounds out of caution.

“Somebody shouting one thing and you can’t see them, or you can’t hear exactly what they’re saying It’s not even close to grounds for mistrial.”

The jury is now being brought back into the room after the afternoon break and another witness will be called.

Why no questions from the defence team?

Monday 18 July 2022 20:52 , Oliver O'Connell

With three witnesses having now taken the stand there has been no cross-examination or additional questioning from Cruz’s defence team.

This is likely because there is nothing to gain by challenging the survivors of the horrifying events of 14 February 2018 when Cruz has already admitted his guilt.

The defence team need only to prove mitigating factors outweigh the state’s aggravating factors and they cannot do that until the present their case-in-chief.

New witness: Dylan Kraemer

Monday 18 July 2022 20:10 , Oliver O'Connell

A new witness is called, Dyland Kraemer, who was a junior student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He was in a history of the Holocaust class when Cruz began his attack. Cruz fired through the window in the door of the classroom hitting multiple people as they sort shelter including behind an overturned filing cabinet.

Two people died and many were injured.

Mr Kraemer also took video that day on his cellphone. It is also played to the court. Loud gunshots and horrifying screaming can be heard.

Sitting with his defence team Cruz’s head is now down on the desk.

Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy reports that family members of the victims put their hands in the air and said “Shut it off!”

Monday 18 July 2022 20:01 , Oliver O'Connell

Following the videos, Ms Gilbert is excused as defence declines to question her.

Ms Gilbert’s videos are played to the court

Monday 18 July 2022 19:55 , Oliver O'Connell

Videos taken by Ms Gilbert are now being played to the court.

They are not being broadcast to the public, but the audio is playing. There are loud gunshots and screams and moaning. A male voice can be heard pleading for help. Whispering can also be heard as students shelter behind their teacher’s desk.

Ms Gilbert in the stand and family members in the gallery are visually upset. One woman has covered her ears and is looking away, another left the courtroom in a hurry.

Cruz is looking down with his head in his hands.

In the final video, police officers can be heard entering the classroom and helping the injured. Wailing and crying can be heard. The distress in the courtroom continues.

New witness: Danielle Gilbert

Monday 18 July 2022 19:38 , Oliver O'Connell

Danielle Gilbert is called to the stand. She attends the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

In 2018 she was a junior at Marjory Stone Douglas and was in classroom 1213 on 14 February.

Her teacher called the students to hide behind her desk and all 30 students crowded over there away from the window in the door. Cruz had not yet shot into the classroom at this point.

When he did, four people were injured and one person died — Carmen Schentrup, aged 16.

Ms Gilbert recorded videos on her cellphone and turned them over to authorities afterward.

A sidebar with the judge is called and the audio is cut.

Court resumes again

Monday 18 July 2022 19:28 , Oliver O'Connell

After attempting to resolve a number of technical issues relating to the screens and whether the jury or defence team could see what the witness was marking, the trial resumes.

Ms Sinitch recalls her class reading Romeo & Juliet and writing Valentine’s Day cards in the style of the play’s characters. They were interrupted by loud bangs of Cruz’s gun and locked the door, taking shelter in corners and behind desks.

She called 911 and the dispatcher struggled to hear her over the noise of the shots. The class was sheltered in place until law enforcement arrived and she could hear their walkie-talkies. No one in Ms Sinitch’s class was hurt and no shots entered the room. They were evacuated by police.

Her 911 call is played and loud gunshots can be heard in the background before the call disconnects.

Defence declines to cross-examine Ms Sinitch.

Seven aggravating factors to prove in death penalty

Monday 18 July 2022 19:10 , Oliver O'Connell

There are seven aggravating factors prosecutors have to prove in order to secure the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz.

1. Previously convicted of capital felony. (pleaded guilty)

2. Knowingly created a great risk of death for many persons.

3. Murders were especially, heinous, atrocious, or cruel.

4. Murders cold, calculated, premeditated

5. Murders committed to disrupt or hinder a government function (schooling)

6. Victim was an appointed public official (teacher, athletic director, coach)

7. Murders were committed during the course of burglary (entering school w/o permission)

Court breaks due to technical issue

Monday 18 July 2022 19:00 , Oliver O'Connell

As Ms Sinitch is asked to mark on a screen the locations of her classroom and the pedestrian gate, there is a complaint regarding whether the jury and defence could see what she was marking on their screens.

Judge Scherer asks the jury to step out while the technical issue is resolved.

Court resumes

Monday 18 July 2022 18:55 , Oliver O'Connell

Court resumes and with the defence reserving their opening statement for later, the prosecution calls its first witness.

Called to testify first on the afternoon of day one is Brittany Sinitch, a teacher since 2017 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas where she was also previously a student. She was 22 at the time of the massacre and had joined the faculty after college.

Her classroom was on the first floor of the 1200 building in room 1218.

Monday 18 July 2022 18:25 , Oliver O'Connell

What happens when the jury finally deliberate?

Monday 18 July 2022 18:05 , Oliver O'Connell

When jurors eventually get to decide on the case after the 1-week trial, they will vote 17 times, once for each of the victims, on whether to recommend capital punishment.

Every vote must be unanimous. A non-unanimous vote for any one of the victims means Cruz's sentence for that person would be life in prison. The jurors are told that to vote for the death penalty, the aggravating circumstances the prosecution has presented for the victim in question must, in their judgment, “outweigh” mitigating factors presented by the defense.

Regardless of the evidence, any juror can vote for life in prison out of mercy. During jury selection, the panelists said under oath that they are capable of voting for either sentence.

AP

Watch: Prosecutor Satz names victims as he recounts timeline of massacre

Monday 18 July 2022 17:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Defence reserves opening statement until case-in-chief

Monday 18 July 2022 16:59 , Oliver O'Connell

On return from a slightly longer break than anticipated, the defence team says they will reserve their opening statement for when they present their case-in-brief.

Judge Scherer calls an early lunch break until 1.30pm when the prosecution will begin calling witnesses.

Monday 18 July 2022 16:31 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Satz outlines the aggravating factors the jury can consider which include Cruz’s assault of a deputy.

He concludes his opening statement returning to the cellphone video recorded by Cruz about his intentions that day.

The court is now on a 10-minute break.

Monday 18 July 2022 16:16 , Oliver O'Connell

Following the shooting, Mr Satz describes Cruz blending in with other students evacuating from other school buildings as a campus-wide fire alarm is activated.

Cruz walks to a Subway outlet in a nearby Walmart. After ordering a drink he leaves and walks to a McDonald’s where he asks a student from the school for a ride. The student declines and Cruz walks into a nearby neighbourhood where he is arrested by police.

Mr Satz is now describing the scene in the 1200 building, who the victims were, and how many times they were shot. It is a harrowing account of the day. 139 rounds of ammunition were fired.

Cruz has kept his head down and has been writing notes and passing them to one of his lawyers.

Who were the victims?

Monday 18 July 2022 16:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Cruz killed 17 people on 14 February 2018, including both students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff

35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel

14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano

17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet

37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis

14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg

49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon

15-year-old student Luke Hoyer

14-year-old student Cara Loughran

14-year-old student Gina Montalto

17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver

14-year-old student Alaina Petty

18-year-old student Meadow Pollack

17-year-old student Helena Ramsay

14-year-old student Alexander Schachter

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

15-year-old student Peter Wang.

Charges were 17 counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.