The jury can see the swastikas drawn in the classroom

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — In a failed attempt to stop school shooter Nikolas Cruz from admitting certain swastikas as evidence in Florida, his lawyers had an unusual argument in the criminal case Thursday: He was an equal opportunity killer who shot his victims regardless of race or religion.

Before the Jury, the lawyers told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that the Nazi symbol had caused such strong anger and disgust that allowing the panel to view the drawings violated her right to a fair trial because there was no evidence that she killed 17 people at Parkland’s in 2018. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High was driven by bigotry. Among the dead and injured were whites, Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, Christians and Jews.

They also listed that they had asked Scherer multiple times before jury selection to decide whether the swastika should be accepted, and that his failure had influenced the questions they asked prospective jurors and their trial strategy. They asked for a misjudgment, which Scherer angrily dismissed, describing their argument as “disloyal.”

He and prosecutors pointed out that the defense was not opposed to accepting Cruz’s drawings used against Black people, which they said were equally offensive, containing heavy defamation. It consists of 12 jurors and 10 substitutes, white, Black, Asian and Hispanic.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October; the trial will only determine whether he is sentenced to death or to life without parole. For the jury to impose the death penalty, it must be unanimous.

Public defenders are in the second week of presenting their testimonies about Cruz’s troubled life – from his birth to a drug-addicted, heavy-drinking prostitute who gave him up for adoption, to a childhood filled with emotional and psychological problems that witnesses say is never enough. discussed.

Defense strategies aim to counter the emotional, frightening, and compelling evidence and testimony presented by the prosecution over three weeks, while revealing the murders and how Cruz planned the attack.

The swastikas were drawn on English assignments given by Carrie Yon, who taught Cruz in eighth grade at Westglades Middle School four years before she was shot. Cruz was in special education classes due to behavioral issues, but was now allowed to enter some general classes like Yon’s.

Yon said Thursday that he usually returns a student’s material at the end of the school year, but kept it because Cruz wanted to document his behavior, thinking it might be necessary at some point. He also made simultaneous notes. After filming, he handed over the materials to lawyers.

On assignments shown in court on Thursday, Cruz wrote swear words and gay insults and took pictures of stick figures shooting each other and having sex. He once told Yon, “I hate you. I hate America.”

He said Cruz would shout in class, flash his middle fingers, throw objects and make threats. One time she told him, “You better give me a good grade on this assignment,” and another time she jumped at him and laughed. He crashed into other children during a fire drill and was thrown into the street in another, almost getting hit by a car.

She said that when Cruz acted, she tried to work with him by giving him candy and compliments. He once praised him for doing his duty and told him that he knew he could be a good student. He said, “I am a bad boy. I want to kill.”

In an assessment, Yon said, “I feel strongly that Nikolas is a danger to students and faculty at this school. He doesn’t understand the difference between his violent feelings and reality.”

He said he initially thought Cruz was trying to get attention from teachers and other students, but believed he wanted to be expelled because he had no friends and couldn’t do the job.

He often complained to managers about Cruz and showed them their duties, but some were not helpful. Someone said to himself, “He has the right to education. Like any child, he has the right to be here.”

A special education teacher told Yon that she was so scared of Cruz that she had to “get in her face” and tell him, “Hit me, go ahead and hit me.” Yon said he refused to do that.

When asked if he had another student pretending to be Cruz in his 12 years of teaching, he gave a simple answer.


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