Parkland prosecutors seek probe of a reported threat to a juror by another juror : NPR
Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Prosecutors in the Florida school shooting Nikolas Cruz are calling for an investigation after a juror said she felt threatened by another member of the jury during deliberations Conclusion ends on Thursday with imprisonment for Cruz’s 17 murders.
The motion calls on law enforcement to interview the unnamed juror after she told the state attorney’s office that “she perceived a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room.” judge.” No further details have been given. A hearing is set for Friday afternoon.
A divided jury spared Cruz the death penalty and instead decided to send him to prison for the rest of his life in a decision that angered, confused and brought tears to many victims’ families. Cruz, 24 years old, pleaded guilty a year ago, killing 14 students and three staff members, and injuring 17 others, at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Under Florida law, the death penalty requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. The jury of seven men and five women unanimously agreed that there were aggravating factors to warrant a death sentence, such as agreeing that the murders were “particularly heinous, barbaric or cruel.”
But one or more jurors also found mitigating factors, such as untreated childhood problems. In the end, the jury couldn’t agree that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the extenuating circumstances, so Cruz would receive life in prison without parole. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally issue a life sentence on November 1. Relatives, along with Cruz’s injured students and teachers, will have the opportunity to speak.
The jurors pledged during the selection process that they could vote for the death sentence, but some of the victim’s parents, some of whom attended the trial almost daily, wondered if all of the victims’ parents had whether they are honest or not.
One juror said the discussions were “very intense”
Juror Denise Cunha sent a short handwritten letter to the judge on Thursday defending her vote for a life sentence and rejecting her intention to vote that way before the trial begins.
“Discussions were intense and some jurors became extremely displeased when I mentioned that I would vote for life,” Cunha wrote. She did not explain her ballot and did not know if she was the juror who complained to the state attorney’s office.
Jury director Benjamin Thomas told local reporters that the three juries voted for life on the final ballot. Two are willing to reconsider, but one is “no” for the death penalty.
“It really came down to one particular (juror) that he (Cruz) was mentally ill,” said Thomas. He didn’t say if that person was Cunha or not.