Nikolas Cruz: Juror claims she was threatened during deliberations before recommending life in prison
PARKLAND, FLORIDA: A female juror from Nikolas Cruz has alleged that she was "threatened" by her co-jurors before the deliberation was proposed from the death penalty to life imprisonment. She immediately reported to Broward State Attorney’s Office once the verdict was announced that Cruz will not be getting the death penalty over a call. The woman claimed that she received "what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror" while she was in the jury room. Another female juror, Denise Cunha, sent a letter to the judge that other members were "extremely unhappy" with her decision to give the mass shooter life in prison over the death penalty.
In light of this recent development, chief prosecutor Mike Satz is demanding for law enforcement to reach out to the juror as they believe a "crime has been committed." During Friday, October 14 hearing, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered the phone call of the "scared" juror to be investigated further and handed over to the police.
NEW: A rare window into deliberations in this letter to the judge by one of the #ParklandTrial #PenaltyPhase jurors…she writes: “the deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life.” #ParklandShooting pic.twitter.com/LWmuj7oPDJ— Christina Boomer Vazquez, M.S. (@CBoomerVazquez) October 13, 2022
Many believed that the majority of jurors wanted the 24-year-old to be executed for killing 17 people in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. According to Florida state law, the death penalty can only be handed out if it is unanimous, unlike the case of Cruz. Prosecutors have demanded the investigation under a criminal procedure that is valid in cases where "the verdict may be subject to challenge," however, since the decision was in Cruz’s favor, it is unlikely to alter the verdict after an allegation of misconduct, reported Daily Mail.
As per state law, one can get up to five years in prison, for threatening a juror, and is treated as a third-degree felony. The hearing is now scheduled for Friday afternoon, October 14, to discuss the motion. It is not known whether the "scared" juror voted for life or death penalty, but Cunha one of five women on the panel, stuck by her decision that Cruz should get life in prison, the report said. “The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life,” she wrote.
A formal announcement is to be made by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, on November 1, as she has no choice but to sentence Cruz to life in prison. At the time of sentencing, the relatives and students of the victims will be given the chance to speak.
The footage showed before the judge read aloud the verdict, two female jurors had already broken down, and many others were "hunched over and keeping their heads down."