Trial for Parkland school shooter could start in September

Brooke Baitinger, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
·1 min read

The trial for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz could start as early as September, according to Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

Scherer said in a hearing on Thursday that the courthouse will be ready to accommodate the trial then, and attorneys should be ready for jury selection to start in September.

She said she would set more specific pre-trial motions in the coming weeks.

Scherer has continually expressed a desire to bring the case in front of a jury. It was delayed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defense lawyers haven’t been able to send mental health examiners to the jail to evaluate Nikolas Cruz, 22, who faces the death penalty if convicted.

Cruz has admitted to the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. Through his lawyers, he offered to plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in exchange for a life sentence. Because prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, a mental health evaluation is crucial to the defense plans to craft an argument that could convince a jury to spare the gunman’s life.

Sun Sentinel staff writer Rafael Olmeda contributed to this report.

Brooke Baitinger can be reached at: bbaitinger@sunsentinel.com, 954-422-0857 or Twitter: @bybbaitinger