Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz are trying to convince a Florida jury that the 23-year-old gunman who killed 17 people and wounded 17 more at a Parkland, Fl., high school does not deserve the death penalty, CNN reports. The defense's opening statements come after prosecutors presented three weeks of testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial, including a trip to the untouched scene of the February 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prosecutors argued Cruz was "cold, calculative, manipulative and deadly" in carrying out his attack and called to the stand students, teachers, police officers and victims' family members to bear witness to the horrific details of that day.
The defense deferred its opening statements and did not cross-examine any students or teachers who survived the shooting. Cruz pleaded guilty in October. His attorneys are asking the jury for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lead public defender Melisa McNeill are laying out Cruz's life history and the mitigating circumstances they believe led him to commit the crime, such as his birth mother's history with drugs and the death of his adoptive parents. The defense case may include testimony from Cruz's siblings. Judge Elizabeth Scherer granted the state's motion to compel depositions for Zachary Cruz, the gunman's brother, and Richard Moore, who Zachary lives with in Virginia.