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Judge: Jury can see swastikas school shooter drew in class


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — In a failed try and bar the admission into proof a number of swastikas Florida college shooter Nikolas Cruz drew on assignments, his attorneys made an uncommon argument Thursday at his penalty trial: he was an equal alternative killer who shot his victims with out regard to race or faith.

The attorneys advised Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer exterior the jury’s presence that the Nazi image creates such robust anger and revulsion that permitting the panel to see his drawings violates his proper to a good trial as a result of there is no such thing as a proof that his 2018 homicide of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive was pushed by bigotry. These killed and the 17 wounded included white, Black, Hispanic and Asian individuals, Christians and Jews.

Additionally they listed the quite a few instances they requested Scherer earlier than jury choice to rule on whether or not the swastikas can be admitted, saying her failure affected the questions they requested potential jurors and their trial technique. They requested for a mistrial, which Scherer angrily rejected, calling their argument “disingenuous.”

She and prosecutors identified that the protection was not towards admitting drawings Cruz made that included a gross slur used towards Black individuals, which they mentioned is equally offensive. The 12 jurors and 10 alternates embody people who find themselves white, Black, Asian and Hispanic.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October; the trial will solely decide whether or not he’s sentenced to demise or life with out parole. The jury should be unanimous to impose a demise sentence.

His public defenders are of their second week of presenting testimony about Cruz’s troubled life — from his beginning to a crack-addicted, hard-drinking prostitute who put him up for adoption to a childhood fraught with emotional and psychological issues that witnesses mentioned have been by no means adequately addressed.

Their protection technique is aimed toward counteracting the emotional, gruesome and graphic proof and testimony the prosecution offered over three weeks because it laid out the killings and the way Cruz deliberate the assault.

The swastikas have been drawn on English assignments given by Carrie Yon, who taught Cruz in eighth grade at Westglades Center Faculty 4 years earlier than the capturing. Cruz had been in particular training lessons for his conduct issues, however was now being allowed into some mainstream lessons like Yon’s.

Yon testified Thursday that she normally returned a scholar’s materials on the finish of the varsity yr, however stored Cruz’s as a result of she wished to doc his conduct pondering it is perhaps wanted sooner or later. She additionally made contemporaneous notes. She turned the fabric over to the legal professionals after the shootings.

On assignments proven in courtroom Thursday, Cruz wrote curse phrases and homosexual slurs and drew photographs of stick figures capturing one another and having intercourse. He as soon as wrote to Yon, “I hate you. I hate America.”

She mentioned Cruz would yell out at school, flash his center fingers, throw objects and make threats. He as soon as advised her “You higher give me an excellent grade on this task” and one other time lunged at her after which laughed. He hit different kids throughout one hearth drill and ran out into the road in one other, virtually getting hit by a automobile.

She mentioned she tried working with Cruz by giving him sweet and compliments when he behaved. One time, she praised him for doing his task, telling him she knew he may very well be an excellent scholar. He replied, “I’m a nasty child. I need to kill.”

On one evaluation, Yon wrote, “I strongly really feel Nikolas is a hazard to the scholars and college at this college. He doesn’t perceive the distinction between his violent emotions and actuality.”

She mentioned she initially thought Cruz was attempting to get consideration from lecturers and different college students, however got here to consider he wished to get kicked out of faculty as a result of he had no pals and couldn’t do the work.

She steadily complained about Cruz to directors and confirmed them his assignments, however some weren’t useful. She mentioned one advised her, “He has a proper to an training. He has a proper to be right here like every other child.”

A particular training trainer advised Yon she was too scared of Cruz, that she wanted to “get in his face” and inform him, “Hit me, go forward and hit me.” Yon mentioned she refused to do this.

When requested if in her 12 years as a trainer if she ever had one other scholar who acted like Cruz, she had a easy response.


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