'Poisoned in womb': Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's defense claims he was 'BRAIN DAMAGED'

'His brain was irretrievably broken, through no fault of his own', argued Melisa McNeill telling the jury about Nikolas Cruz's biological mother

'Poisoned in womb': Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's defense claims he was 'BRAIN DAMAGED'
Melisa McNeill from the defense team of Nikolas Cruz argued that his biological mother, Brenda Woodard, was on regular substance abuse when she was pregnant with him, leaving him with developmental delays (Amy Beth Bennett -Pool/Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: It had been anticipated earlier that the Parkland high school shooter's defense would attribute his abnormal behavior to his mother's consumption of substances when she was pregnant with him. So has happened. The agenda for Nikolas Cruz's defense team was to save him from the death penalty as they urged the jury that he was "poisoned in the womb" by his biological mother, Brenda Woodard, who was drinking and abusing drugs during her pregnancy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018 in Parkland, Florida. While lead public defender Melisa McNeill told the jury that there was no sparing this crime and the only motive of this trial was to determine Cruz's sentence, she linked the accused's brain damage to fetal drug and alcohol exposure as reasons not to impose the death penalty. Crediting his biological mother's substance use during pregnancy, McNeill told the jury, "Because of that, his brain was irretrievably broken, through no fault of his own." 

ADVERTISEMENT

RELATED ARTICLES

Nikolas Cruz: Parkland shooter is 'delusional' and now wants to dedicate life to 'helping people'

Nikolas Cruz trial: Parkland shooter couldn't 'wait' till everyone died, fired 139 shots hitting 1 victim 13 TIMES

ADVERTISEMENT

McNeill pushed for a life sentence without parole and asked the jury to consider troubling factors like developmental delays and mental health disorders that were a curse to him from Woodard. She said, "We must understand the person behind the crime. I stand before you today in a space filled with overwhelming sadness, painstaking grief, anger, and trauma." McNeill had previously postponed her opening statements from the trial's first day on July 18 to the beginning of her team's case to keep the jury calm and keep them focused on the horrifying crime. Law&Crime Network shared a video of McNeill from the court saying, "Defense attorney Melisa McNeill claimed that the Parkland shooter's sister watched their biological mother smoked crack and rented out the apartment for others, so they can smoke also."

ADVERTISEMENT



 

Nikolas Cruz's disturbing childhood becomes pivotal

McNeill heavily emphasized Cruz's mother, making him a victim by claiming that he was born to a homeless and mentally ill mother. She continued defending the 23-year-old saying, "Because Nikolas was bombarded by all of those things, he was poisoned in the womb. Because of that, his brain was irretrievably broken, through no fault of his own." She argued that the fact that Cruz's mental and behavioral issues were not addressed, and the teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas did not give him adequate care while they recognized him as a threat. 

ADVERTISEMENT

An undated photograph of Brenda Woodard, the biological mother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz, is shown on a screen in the courtroom during the penalty phase of Cruzs trial at the Broward County Courthouse August 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 shootings.
An undated photograph of Brenda Woodard, the biological mother of Nikolas Cruz, is shown on a screen in the courtroom during the penalty phase of Cruz's trial at the Broward County Courthouse on August 22, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Amy Beth Bennett -Pool/Getty Images)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks up as Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill gives the defenses opening statement during the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse August 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 shootings.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks up as Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill gives the defense opening statement during the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse on August 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Amy Beth Bennett -Pool/Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

McNeill continued, "Nikolas Cruz's decision to take an Uber to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and kill as many people as he could possibly kill is not where Nikolas Cruz's story starts. He didn't stop being brain-damaged. He didn't stop being emotionally handicapped. He didn't stop having language impairment. He didn't stop needing services. But they were all gone. We will tell you Nikolas' life story so that we can give you reasons to vote for life." The jury has so far seen disturbing evidence which includes emotional testimonies from surviving students and teachers, images from the crime scene, and horrifying videos where one could hear people scream. McNeill persuaded the entire jury to make an "individualized moral decision" and decide whether Cruz's life story lessens his punishment or not. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: 'Poisoned in womb': Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's defense claims he was 'BRAIN DAMAGED'