In a particularly uncommon go to to the sealed-off crime scene, jurors within the sentencing trial of Florida faculty shooter Nikolas Cruz toured the nonetheless blood-spattered rooms of a three-story constructing at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College on Thursday.
Cruz has already pleaded responsible to murdering 14 college students and three academics within the 2018 bloodbath, and now a jury of 12 will resolve whether or not he’s sentenced to life in jail or the demise penalty. Reporters have been allowed temporary entry to the constructing following the jury, however cameras have been forbidden.
The constructing has been sealed off because the capturing, and the sight was deeply unsettling: Giant swimming pools of dried blood nonetheless stained classroom flooring.
Home windows in classroom doorways are shot out, with shards of glass littering the ground. Rotted Valentine’s Day flowers, deflated balloons and different items are strewn about. Solely the our bodies and private belongings similar to backpacks have been eliminated.
A lock of darkish hair rested on the ground the place one of many victims’ our bodies as soon as lay. A single black rubber shoe was in a hallway. Browned rose petals have been strewn throughout a hallway the place six folks died.
In classroom after classroom, open notebooks displayed uncompleted lesson plans: A blood-coated e-book known as ‘Inform Them We Bear in mind’ sat atop a bullet-riddled desk within the classroom the place trainer Ivy Schamis taught college students concerning the Holocaust. Hooked up to a bulletin board within the room an indication learn: ‘We’ll always remember.’
Within the classroom of English trainer Dara Hass, the place probably the most college students have been gunned down, college students had written papers about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban for going to high school and has since been a worldwide advocate for academic entry for girls and ladies.
One of many college students wrote: ‘A bullet went straight to her head however not her mind.’ One other learn: ‘We go to high school every single day of the week and we take all of it without any consideration. We cry and complain with out understanding how fortunate we’re to have the ability to study.’
Vans transporting jurors arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland on Thursday. The constructing has been sealed off because the capturing, and the sight was deeply unsettling: Giant swimming pools of dried blood nonetheless stained classroom flooring
College shooter Nikolas Cruz is led from the courtroom after he was sworn in and waved his proper to be current on the faculty whereas the jury walks by the crime scene on Thursday
Court docket deputies exit vans that transported jurors to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland. This in the course of the penalty part within the trial of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz who beforehand plead responsible to all 17 counts of premeditated homicide and 17 counts of tried homicide
An indication studying ‘1240 west going through window’ and 5 bullet holes could be seen in a 3rd ground window of the constructing, which has remained sealed because the bloodbath on February 14, 2018
An proof picture from 2018 exhibits the inside of the identical window. Cameras weren’t allowed within the constructing on Thursday, however the scene has remained basically untouched for the previous 4 years
A bullet gap could be seen in a second ground window of the ‘1200 constructing,’ the crime scene the place the shootings passed off
Cruz’s legal professional Nawal Najet Bashiman wipes away tears whereas listening to oldsters inform of their grief in court docket Tuesday. The jury listening to these mother and father’ sufferer impression assertion will resolve whether or not to condemn Cruz to life in jail or demise
The door of Room 1255, trainer Stacey Lippel’s classroom, was pushed open – like others to suggest that Cruz shot into it. Hanging on a wall inside was an indication studying, ‘No Bully Zone.’ The artistic writing project for the day was written on the whiteboard: ‘The way to write the right love letter.’
And nonetheless hanging on the wall of a second-floor hallway was a quote from James Dean: ‘Dream as if you happen to´ll dwell without end, dwell as if you happen to´ll die at present.’
Inside slain trainer Scott Beigel’s geography classroom, his laptop computer was nonetheless open on his desk. Pupil assignments evaluating the tenets of Christianity and Islam remained there, some graded, some not.
On his whiteboard, Beigel, the varsity’s cross-country coach, had been writing the gold, silver and bronze medalists in every occasion on the Winter Olympics, which had begun 5 days earlier.
The go to to the homicide scene capped off the arguments from the prosecution, which rested its case on Thursday afternoon after 12 days of emotional testimony, which moved even the killer’s personal legal professional to tears earlier this week.
The seven-man, five-woman jury and 10 alternates have been bused underneath heavy safety 30 miles from the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale to the suburban faculty, the place courses do not resume till later this month.
Legislation enforcement sealed off the world to forestall protesters from interrupting or endangering the jurors’ security.
The panelists and their legislation enforcement escorts have been accompanied into the constructing by Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer, prosecutors and Cruz’s attorneys, and walked by the location for about an hour and a half.
Cruz waived his proper to go along with them. Journalists have been being escorted into the location after the jury left, for the primary public look. They have been allowed to hold paper and pen however no cameras.
Prosecutors, who’re winding up their case, hope the go to will assist show that the previous Stoneman Douglas scholar’s actions have been chilly, calculated, heinous and merciless; created an excellent threat of demise to many individuals and ‘interfered with a authorities perform’ – all aggravating elements underneath Florida’s capital punishment legislation.
Below Florida court docket guidelines, neither the choose nor the attorneys have been allowed to talk to the jurors – and the jurors weren’t allowed to converse with one another – once they retraced the trail Cruz adopted on February 14, 2018, as he methodically moved from ground to ground, firing down hallways and into school rooms as he went.
Surveillance video exhibits Cruz inside the varsity in 2018. Jurors retraced the trail Cruz adopted on February 14, 2018, as he methodically moved from ground to ground, firing down hallways and into school rooms as he went
Broward State Legal professional Harold F. Pryor, second from proper, and Assistant State Legal professional Mike Satz enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland on Thursday in Parkland, Florida
Members of the prosecution workforce stroll in direction of the doorway of the varsity. Prosecutors, who’re winding up their case, hope the go to will assist show that the previous Stoneman Douglas scholar’s actions have been chilly, calculated, heinous and merciless
Vans transporting jurors are seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland on Thursday. Jurors went to view the 1200 constructing, the crime scene the place the 2018 shootings passed off throughout this penalty part within the trial of Nikolas Cruz
Previous to the tour, the jurors had already seen surveillance video of the capturing and images of its aftermath.
The constructing has been sealed and surrounded by a chain-link fence since shortly after the bloodbath.
Identified each because the freshman and 1200 constructing, it looms ominously over the varsity and its academics, employees and three,300 college students, and could be seen simply by anybody close by.
The Broward County faculty district plans to demolish it every time the prosecutors approve. For now, it’s a court docket exhibit.
‘If you find yourself driving previous, it is there. When you will class, it is there. It’s only a colossal construction that you would be able to’t miss,’ mentioned Kai Koerber, who was a Stoneman Douglas junior on the time of the capturing.
He’s now on the College of California, Berkeley, and the developer of a psychological well being telephone app. ‘It’s only a fixed reminder … that’s tremendously attempting and horrible.’
Cruz, 23, pleaded responsible in October to 17 counts of first-degree homicide; the trial is barely to find out if he’s sentenced to demise or life with out parole.
Cruz is seen inside the varsity in a picture launched in the course of the investigation. The constructing’s inside has been left practically intact because the capturing: Bloodstains nonetheless smear the ground, and doorways and partitions are riddled with bullet holes
Tamara Curtis clasps her fingers and closes her eyes whereas listening to the mother and father give sufferer impression statements Tuesday
Assistant Public Defender Tamara Curtis wipes her eyes throughout sufferer impression statements within the penalty part of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College shooter Nikolas Cruz
Miami protection legal professional David S. Weinstein mentioned prosecutors hope the go to to the varsity will likely be ‘the ultimate piece in erasing any doubt that any juror might need had that the demise penalty is the one advice that may be made.’
Such web site visits are uncommon. Weinstein, a former prosecutor, mentioned in additional than 150 jury trials courting again to the late Eighties, he has solely had one.
One purpose for his or her rarity is that they’re a logistical nightmare for the choose, who must get the jury to the situation and again to the courthouse with out incident or threat a mistrial.
And in a typical case, a go to would not even current truthful proof: After legislation enforcement leaves, the constructing or public house returns to its regular use. The scene will get cleaned up, objects get moved and repairs are made. It is why judges order jurors in lots of trials to not go to the scene on their very own.
Craig Trocino, a College of Miami legislation professor who has represented defendants interesting their demise sentences, mentioned the go to – mixed with the myriad graphic movies and images jurors have already seen – might open an avenue for Cruz’s attorneys in the event that they discover themselves in the identical scenario.
‘In some unspecified time in the future proof turns into inflammatory and prejudicial,’ he mentioned. ‘The positioning go to could also be a cumulative capstone.’
Cruz’s attorneys have argued that prosecutors have used proof not simply to show their case, however to inflame the jurors´ passions.