Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's lawyers may blame his childhood sexual abuse and MOTHER'S drug use for massacre

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's lawyers may blame his childhood sexual abuse and MOTHER'S drug use for massacre
Nikolas Cruz's lawyers are expected to shed light on his troubled childhood and trace it back to his mother's alcohol abuse even when she was pregnant with him (Taimy Alvarez-Pool/Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: The defense team for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is all prepared to present their case in court on Monday, August 22. They are expected to shed light on Cruz's troubled childhood and trace it back to his mother's alcohol abuse even when she was pregnant with him. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

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Cruz's lead public defender, Melisa McNeill, is expected to her give her opening statement Monday, August 22. The defense is hoping to get Cruz off with a sentence of life in prison rather than the death penalty by focusing on his childhood struggles which include his alleged sexual abuse by a peer, his severe mental and emotional problems, and the death of his closed ones. McNeill and her team will round up the possible fetal alcohol syndrome caused by the constant alcohol and substance abuse of his birth mother Brenda Woodard when she was pregnant with Cruz. 

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The defense is also expected to focus on the deaths of his adoptive father when he was five and his adoptive mother, four months before his attack at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz's defense team delayed their opening statements in order to keep the jury neutral as the motive of this trial is to only determine the sentence that the accused shall receive. As per Daily Mail, David S Weinstein, a Miami defense attorney and a former prosecutor, said, "The defense is going to say, 'Look, you saw what happened - we are not going to argue that.' It was horrible, that was awful, that was horrific, whatever adjectives you want to use." However, the defense will turn the argument to the fact that "He never had a chance and, because of that, his poor victims never had a chance."

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz rubs his eye during a break while seated at the defense table for the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse on July 22, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz previously plead guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Mass School.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz rubs his eye during a break while seated at the defense table for the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse on July 22, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Mike Stocker - Pool/Getty Images)

Nikolas Cruz's defense pushes for a life sentence

The defense team for Nikolas Cruz would need to swing only one juror out of 12 in their way to get Nikolas a life sentence and get him out of the death penalty. However, they will have to do it on all 17 counts, one for each victim. The jury that will decide the sentence for Cruz is made up of seven men and five women, who will consider whether the prosecution's aggravating circumstances "outweigh" the defense's mitigating factors. As of now, the very fact that Cruz fired 139 shots and hit one victim 13 times, proves that he wanted to hurt the wounded and helpless.

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(EDITORS NOTE: Best quality available)  In this handout provided by Broward's Sheriff's Office, suspect Nikolas Cruz poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested February 14, 2017 in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, police arrested the suspect after a short manhunt, and have identified him as 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz.
Nikolas Cruz after being arrested on February 14, 2017, in Parkland, Florida (Broward's Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)

The defense needs to battle the mountain of evidence that was laid out for the jury by the prosecution which included the horrifying screams of the witnesses, blood dried up in the hallways, and bullet holes in doors and windows. Prosecutors held back nothing as they presented graphic surveillance videos of the massacre, photos of the crime scene, disturbing autopsy images, and moving testimony from the students and teachers who survived the attack. After the defense presentation, the prosecution will present a rebuttal case before the matter rests in the hands of the jury. 

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If you or anyone you know suspects child abuse, you are urged to immediately call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential and the hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
 

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