The wheels of justice are grinding slowly for the confessed Parkland school shooter as still no trial date has been set. At a hearing on Tuesday, the judge weighed arguments over how much information about the trial should be made available to the media. The accused shooter is facing 17 charges of first degree murder for the mass killings on Valentine’s Day nearly four years ago.
Attorneys for the suspect in a 2018 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school massacre told a judge Tuesday that the news media and public should be barred from all pretrial hearings, saying Nikolas Cruz’s right to an impartial jury will be irrevocably harmed if certain evidence is revealed before jurors are seated.
Chief assistant public defender David Wheeler told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that discussing during open pretrial hearings evidence that might be excluded or barred would “let the cat out of the bag” and create news coverage that would prejudice the potential juror pool.
Wheeler said the public’s view of Cruz, 22, has already been tainted by news coverage. Cruz is charged with killing 17 and wounding 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018.
Prosecutors and lawyers for the news media argued that a blanket order barring reporters from hearings would violate Florida law.
Parkland dad Fred Guttenberg expressed his anger and frustration with how long it has taken to get to this point on Twitter.
(1,3) I have avoided public comment on the criminal trial for the killer of my daughter. However, I am so angry and frustrated now listening to this hearing over whether or not to keep the press from the trial, only to discover that the only possible rationale for the defense to
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) August 10, 2021
He says “we are coming up on 4 years soon and my family and the other families deserve a trial and we deserve justice.”
Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas student, has pleaded not guilty, but his attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors have rejected that proposal, saying they will seek the death penalty. No trial date has been set.