Nikolas Cruz trial: HORRIFYING screams of Parkland school victims, cries of parents fill court on Day 1
WARNING: This article contains graphic imagery and content that some readers may find distressing. Discretion is advised.
Day 1 of the death penalty trial of the confessed Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was traumatic for the parents and family members of the students. Harrowing screams of students' cries for help from videos and audio recordings of Cruz's rampage filled the courtroom. “Somebody help me!" a student was heard pleading in one of the recordings. The parents cried as the prosecution detailed the events of the shooting, including the names of those killed.
The sentencing trial for the 23-year-old Cruz, who killed 17 people and left 17 others wounded, in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 began with opening statements from the lead prosecutor, Mike Satz, who said, “I’m going to speak to you about the unspeakable. About this defendant’s goal-directed, planned, systematic murder – mass murder – of 14 children, an athletic director, a teacher and a coach.” Satz also read out a message that Cruz recorded on his phone days before the shooting which said, “I want to be the next school shooter 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR. I think it’s going to be a big event. And when you see me on the news, you’ll know who I am. You’re all going to die. Oh yeah, I can’t wait.” Videos and audio recordings taken by students from inside a classroom during the shooting were played for the court. However, a report by Newsweek suggests, that jurors were able to watch the video and the gallery could only hear the audio.
First video by Danielle Gilbert
Among the first witnesses was Danielle Gilbert, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student who was in a psychology class when the shooting began. Gilbert's video was the first one that was played for the courtroom. Gilbert, who is now a student at the University of Central Florida, said, "We were sitting like sitting ducks. We had no way to protect ourselves." This was followed by another video, which showed about two dozen shots volleying through a door as the fire alarm goes off. An unidentified boy was heard crying and pleading, "Someone help me." As the recording continued to play, Gilbert was seen crying, along with the family members of the victims. As some left the courtroom, gunman Cruz was seen holding his head.
'Shut it off'
As seen in the video, former student Dylan Kraemer was called as a witness. Kramer was one of the students who had recorded a video during the shooting. As per reports, some people in the gallery could not bear to see the video Kraemer recorded. "Shut it off," a few wailed. However, a deputy walked over to remind the members that they were not permitted to make comments as the court was in session.
Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who is presiding over the trial, which is expected to go on for at least four months, said that it was "not even close to grounds for a mistrial."