Jury selection in Nikolas Cruz sentencing case delayed again

Posted at 1:53 PM, May 10, 2022 and last updated 8:43 PM, May 10, 2022

By: Ryan Hughes, Scott Sutton

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WPTV) — Jury selection in the sentencing phase for the Parkland gunman was back in court Monday, but once again it was only a brief meeting.

The case had been paused since May 2 after lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill was not in attendance last week for an undisclosed reason.

 

Nearly five weeks after being dismissed on day two of jury selection by Judge Elizabeth Scherer, the 11th potential juror — who said he could not follow the law and reach a fair verdict — was brought back into court Monday.

However, he is self-employed as a software engineer, so he was excused for financial hardship and does not have to report back to court.

Nikolas Cruz sits at the defense table during the third day of preliminary jury screening in the penalty phase of his trial, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cruz previously plead guilty to the 2018 murders of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The 10 other potential jurors, who were dismissed on April 5 after saying they could not follow the law, were brought back last week. Nine of those 10 were excused for hardships.

McNeill was not in attendance again Monday. It is still unclear why she has not been in court for more than a week but apparently, it’s for some type of undisclosed illness.

Since she was not in attendance, the court is in recess until May 16 and jury selection is delayed again.

In the meantime, the judge has asked the attorneys to compile lists of chosen jurors who have made it past the first round.

Jury selection began in early April, but little progress has been made due to a misstep by Scherer and subsequent delays for the last few weeks.

Testimony isn’t scheduled to begin until at least June 21.

Nikolas Cruz has already pleaded guilty to killing 17 people during the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

This story was originally published May 9. 2022 by WPTV in West Palm Beach, an E.W. Scripps Company.

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