UPDATED 9:19 AM PT – Tuesday, August 23, 2022
The defense for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz began their case in Florida by asking juror’s to reconsider the death penalty. On Monday, attorneys for Cruz attempted to look into why the 23-year-old murdered 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
Specifically, the defense highlighted his birth mother’s abuse of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy while claiming this contributed to Cruz’s actions. He pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and attempted murder, but his attorneys hope to convince the jury to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
“The State of Florida described to you what Nikolas did, the defense will tell you who he is,” stated Melisa McNeill, Chief Pubic Defender. “That’s our job. And for the last four and a half years, we have painstakingly dug into every part of Nikolas’s life. Where he came from, who was around him, who raised him, who carried him in utero, who influenced his life, who shaped and what contributed to that horrible decision that he made.”
Cruz’s biological sister, Danielle Woodward, too the stand to attempt to back the claims of the defense by detailing how their mother consumed illicit drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco during her pregnancy.
The Parkland school shooter’s sister, #DanielleWoodard, testified that her mother smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, and consumed illicit drugs while she was pregnant with the defendant. pic.twitter.com/53vX3lY7nw
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) August 22, 2022
Over the last three weeks, prosecutors argued that the shooter was “cold, manipulative and deadly.”