Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz can’t be referred to as an “animal”, different derogatory names in the course of the trial, decide guidelines
It is not feasible, said Elizabeth Scherer, Broward District Judge, to create “an exhaustive list of words” that should not be used to describe Cruz who was responsible for the February 2018 shooting at a South Florida high school of 17 people were killed. But the use of terms like “animal” or “the thing” would not be allowed during the process, Scherer said.
Scherer’s ruling on Friday, however, said that the defense had also asked that some words not be used – such as “school shooter”, “murderer” or “murderer” – were not derogatory, but rather “normal words or terms that may be used “. to describe certain facts. ”
This thinking also applies to words that refer to the shooting itself, said Scherer, such as “massacre”, which describes a “special circumstance” and is not “in and of itself” a derogatory word.
Prosecutors are calling for the death penalty for Cruz, who previously confessed to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that sparked a massive national protest movement against gun violence in American schools. He has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers previously said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence with no parole. A date for the hearing has not been set.
The verdict comes after Cruz attorneys spoke up on Wednesday in support of two motions to prevent prosecutors and witnesses from referring to Cruz or the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in “inflammatory ways”.
In a virtual hearing, attended by Cruz via video call, Assistant Public Defender Melissa McNeill asked to name Cruz only by his name or “the defendant” and to refer to the shooting as “the incident, the mass shooting, or” the tragedy. ”
It was “improper to call the accused pejorative,” argued McNeill, and it was not necessary because “the evidence speaks for itself.” Calling Cruz other than his name would be “an attack on his character and unnecessary,” said McNeill.
In response, Assistant Prosecutor Nicole Chiappone said there was no law preventing the state from designating a defendant in a murder trial as a murderer.
“That’s not a derogatory word, it’s not a seditious word that doesn’t comment on his character, it’s not even insulted,” said Chiappone. “That’s what he’s charged with.”
In her judgment, Scherer wrote that the court trusted “that neither party wants to invite errors into the process and that the lawyers will act professionally in the process, as is their duty”. Similarly, Witnesses are expected to behave appropriately and display “appropriate courtroom decor,” Scherer wrote.
“The accused is brought to justice on the evidence, and what the lawyers say is not evidence. A trial is not the time for lawyers to edit or express their opinion on a defendant,” Scherer wrote. “The trial attorneys present the evidence and the jury makes its decisions based on the evidence presented.”
However, if necessary, attorneys can raise objections during the trial, and Scherer will take those objections to court, she wrote.