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Parkland shooting suspect can’t be called an “animal” during trial

Nikolas Cruz
FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2018 file photo, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz listens during a status check on his case at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said at a hearing Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, that she won’t delay Cruz’s trial, expected to start Jan. 27 with jury selection. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

A judge has ruled that prosecutors and witnesses may not refer to the Parkland shooting suspect by any derogatory terms during his upcoming trial.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer released the ruling on Friday stating that terms such as “animal” or “that thing” may not be used to refer to the suspect but that calling the mass shooting “a massacre” will be acceptable.

“Some words and terms the Defendant requests not to be used, such as ‘school shooter,’ ‘murderer,’ or ‘killer,’ in and of themselves are not derogatory,” Scherer wrote. “They are normal words that may be used to describe particular facts.”

Scherer went on to say that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, only be called by his name or “the defendant,” because the other terms often used by the media to describe Cruz “goes too far.”

Scherer’s statement was a response to Cruz’ attorney, who requested a limitation on the vocabulary that could be used in the court room.

While Scherer did agree with the attorney’s request to limit the names Cruz’ could be called, she denied the attorney’s request to only refer to the killings as “the incident” or “the tragedy.”

“Some words and terms the Defendant requests not to be used, such as ‘school shooter,’ ‘murderer,’ or ‘killer,’ in and of themselves are not derogatory,” Scherer wrote. “They are normal words that may be used to describe particular facts.”

Cruz has pleaded not guilty for the deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on February 14th, 2018. His attorneys, however, have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

Prosecutors have rejected the offer and are seeking the death penalty.

No trial date has been set.