FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – The judge in the Parkland shooting case has rejected several defense arguments in which lawyers are asking to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer agreed with the state’s argument that the court did not have the power to overturn the Supreme Court on the issue.
On February 14, 2018, Cruz opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In October, Cruz pleaded guilty to killing 17 people in the shooting. By pleading guilty, the shooter’s defense team hopes that he can avoid the death penalty and be sentenced to 17 life terms.
In addition, as the case neared the start of the sanction phase, the defense team for Parkland School shooter Nikolas Cruz asked the judge to exclude evidence related to two search warrants; one was linked to a Pompano Beach house he once resided in and another to the cell phone used on the day of the shooting.
“Sir. Cruz told us that the phone was used to get the Uber that brought him to school,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective John Curcio.
On the issue of Cruz’s cell phone, the defense argued that Cruz had a reasonable expectation of confidentiality in his phone records. They also contend that the affidavit underlying the warrant “does not indicate that the cell phone was used in the course of criminal activity.” They say that nothing indicates that a witness saw Cruz using a cell phone during or after the incident, nor if Cruz made calls or sent messages using the cell phone during or after the incident.
They argue that the cell phone warrant is “unconstitutionally too broad” and “makes no connection” between “the criminal conduct under investigation and the records to be sought.”
Two detectives from the Broward Sheriff’s Office served as witnesses during the hearing of evidence as the state struggled to counter the defense arguments. Namely, the affidavit in support of the warrant contained false statements.
The state, in its filed response, argued that the affidavit contained “sufficient probable cause to justify the execution of a warrant,” claiming that “the telephone was an instrument of” its murder crimes.
The defense team reiterated in court on Monday that they could call more than eight mental health witnesses. The state previously told the judge that the defense said these experts have yet to make a formal diagnosis and would like the defense to detail for the prosecution the mitigating factors they will invoke during the sanction phase. .
The next hearing is scheduled for early December.
A jury of 12 people will be selected from the beginning of January and Cruz will finally be sentenced either to life imprisonment or to the death penalty.
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