On Monday, a prosecutor urged jurors to execute the gunman who killed 17 people in a mass shooting at a Florida high school in 2018.
The trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, began on Monday.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to 17 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February 2018, and is now only contesting his sentence.
Jurors must decide whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Cruz’s brutality as he stalked a three-story classroom building, firing his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle down hallways and into classrooms was expected to be highlighted by lead prosecutor Mike Satz.
Cruz would sometimes return to wounded victims and kill them with a second volley of bullets.
Satz told the Broward County jury on Monday afternoon that Cruz committed goal-directed, planned, systematic murder – mass murder – of 14 students, an athletic director, a teacher, and a coach.
About three dozen victims’ families were in the courtroom, sitting in a roped-off section.
Some people shook their heads or sobbed as Satz described the massacre, naming each of the 17 people who died and another 17 who were injured.
Cruz sagged in his seat, looking down, for much of Satz’s statement, dressed in a gray-and-black sweater and wearing a black face mask to limit the spread of coronavirus. He appeared to be writing notes and passing them to his lawyer.
The trial for the former Stoneman Douglas student was supposed to begin in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic and legal battles pushed it back.
Cruz apologised in his guilty plea and asked for the opportunity to help others. Satz stated that aggravating factors in the case, such as premeditation, outweighed arguments for leniency, such as Cruz’s history of mental health issues.
Satz said Cruz had planned to be a school shooter long before the attack, referring to him as “the defendant” rather than by name. Satz stated that jurors will be shown video of the crime captured by school cameras.
Brittany Sinitch, a teacher at the school, was the prosecution’s first witness, and she described dialling 911 from her classroom. As the attack began, her students were writing Valentine’s Day letters as characters from Romeo and Juliet.
“I dialled 911 almost immediately.” “They couldn’t hear me because the gunshots were so loud,” she explained.
The Parkland shooting is the deadliest in US history to go to trial. Nine other gunmen who killed at least 17 people committed suicide or were killed by police gunfire during or immediately after their shootings.
The suspect in the 2019 murder of 23 people in an anti-immigrant shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial.