Judge’s ruling in Nicholas Cruz case reverses jury selection path 2022-04-27 20:07:39

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“I would have agreed to the state’s motion without prejudice, (but) at this time I would reject the state’s motion as premature,” Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Shearer said.

Prosecutors asked to start the process because Scherer had excused 11 potential jurors who said they could not follow the law before they were questioned by attorneys on both sides.

“Something went wrong,” Assistant Attorney General Carolyn McCann said Monday, calling the situation a “miscommunication” and filing a petition asking the judge to beat juries. “There are a lot of issues at this point. It’s better to start over.”

Shearer agreed to the prosecution’s request.

“I’m going to start over,” Scherer said Monday. “As soon as the committee comes, I grant the proposal. We’ll start over.”

Scherer, however, added a caveat: It will allow the defense on Wednesday to discuss why it shouldn’t start over, an argument that has prevailed, with the judge saying it would instead return those 11 potential jurors on Monday for further questioning rather than starting over completely.

The Jury selection process for the sentencing phase Cruz’s trial has begun. He already pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The jury selection is further complicated by the fact that the proceedings are expected to be extremely long. Both sides told Shearer that the punishment phase could last from four to six months.

Jurors are expected to hear both aggravating factors and mitigating circumstances – the reasons why Cruz should or should not be executed. If the jury unanimously finds at least one aggravating factor in the case, it must be unanimous in recommending the death penalty. Otherwise, Cruz will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

If the jury recommends the death penalty, the judge can choose to follow the recommendation or sentence Cruz to life imprisonment.

CNN’s Alta Spells contributed to this report.

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