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Prosecutors To Start Rebuttal In Trial Of Florida School Shooter Cruz

In the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, prosecutors will begin their rebuttal Tuesday, challenging his attorneys’ contention that he murdered 17 people because his birth mother abused alcohol during pregnancy, a condition they say went untreated, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutor Mike Satz's team will call experts to prove that Cruz has an antisocial personality disorder and is fully responsible for his Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with antisocial personality disorder commit “exploitive, delinquent and criminal behavior with no remorse.” Those with antisocial personality disorder usually have no regard for others, don’t follow the law, can’t sustain consistent relationships or jobs, and use manipulation for personal gain. Prosecutors want to reemphasize Cruz “understood exactly” what he was doing during the massacre and could “formulate and carry out a plan,” said David Weinstein, a Miami defense attorney and former prosecutor. Cruz’s attorneys never questioned the deaths he inflicted but focused on their belief that his birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnancy left him with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Their experts said his bizarre, troubling, and sometimes violent behavior starting at age two, was misdiagnosed as attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder.

Cruz, who turned 24 on Saturday, pleaded guilty to murdering 14 students and three staff members. Whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole will be decided by the seven-man, five-woman jury who will weigh aggravating factors presented by prosecutors against the defense’s mitigating circumstances. A juror could also vote for life out of mercy for Cruz. To receive a death sentence the jury must unanimously agree. Satz’s team told Judge Elizabeth Scherer their presentation could take two weeks. Robert Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s law school, questioned if that is too long considering the jury began hearing evidence in July. Satz kept his main case simple, focusing on Cruz’s eight months of planning, the seven minutes he stalked the halls of a three-story classroom building, firing 140 shots with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle, and his escape. He also played security videos of the shooting and showed gruesome crime scenes and autopsy photos. The defense cut their case short, calling only about 25 of the 80 witnesses they said would testify.


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