Dried Blood And Roses: Jury Gets Rare Look At Parkland Scene

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Roses that had been brought to grant emotion connected that Valentine’s Day successful 2018 laic withered, their dried and cracked petals scattered crossed schoolroom floors inactive smeared with the humor of victims gunned down by a erstwhile pupil much than 4 years earlier.

Bullet holes pocked walls and shards of solid from windows shattered by gunfire crunched eerily underfoot astatine Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, wherever shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 14 students and 3 unit members. Nothing had been changed, but for the removal of the victims’ bodies and immoderate idiosyncratic items.

The 12 jurors and 10 alternates who volition determine whether Cruz gets the decease punishment oregon beingness successful situation made a uncommon sojourn to the massacre country Thursday, tracing Cruz’s steps done the three-story freshman building, known arsenic “Building 12.” After they left, a radical of journalists was allowed successful for a overmuch quicker archetypal nationalist view.

The show was profoundly unsettling: Large pools of dried humor inactive stained schoolroom floors. A fastener of acheronian hairsbreadth rested connected the level wherever 1 of the victims’ bodies erstwhile lay. A azygous achromatic rubber footwear was successful a hallway. Browned roseate petals were strewn crossed a hallway wherever six radical died.

In schoolroom aft classroom, unfastened notebooks displayed uncompleted acquisition plans: A blood-coated publication called “Tell Them We Remember” sat atop a bullet-riddled table successful the schoolroom wherever teacher Ivy Schamis taught students astir the Holocaust. Attached to a bulletin committee successful the country a motion read: “We volition ne'er forget.”

In the schoolroom of English teacher Dara Hass, wherever the astir students were gunned down, students had written papers astir Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was changeable by the Taliban for going to schoolhouse and has since been a planetary advocator for acquisition entree for women and girls.

One of the students wrote: “A slug went consecutive to her caput but not her brain.” Another read: “We spell to schoolhouse each time of the week and we instrumentality it each for granted. We outcry and kick without knowing however fortunate we are to beryllium capable to learn.”

The doorway of Room 1255, teacher Stacey Lippel’s classroom, was pushed unfastened — similar others to signify that Cruz changeable into it. Hanging connected a partition wrong was a motion reading, “No Bully Zone.” The originative penning duty for the time was written connected the whiteboard: “How to constitute the cleanable emotion letter.”

And inactive hanging connected the partition of a second-floor hallway was a punctuation from James Dean: “Dream arsenic if you’ll unrecorded forever, unrecorded arsenic if you’ll dice today.”

Inside slain teacher Scott Beigel’s geography classroom, his laptop was inactive unfastened connected his desk. Student assignments comparing the tenets of Christianity and Islam remained there, immoderate graded, immoderate not. On his whiteboard, Beigel, the school’s cross-country coach, had been penning the gold, metallic and bronze medalists successful each lawsuit astatine the Winter Olympics, which had begun 5 days earlier.

Prosecutors, who rested their lawsuit pursuing the jury’s tour, anticipation the sojourn volition assistance beryllium that Cruz’s actions were cold, calculated, heinous and cruel; created a large hazard of decease to galore radical and “interfered with a authorities function” — each aggravating factors nether Florida’s superior punishment law.

Under Florida tribunal rules, neither the justice nor the attorneys were allowed to talk to the jurors — and the jurors weren’t allowed to converse with each different — erstwhile they retraced the way Cruz followed connected Feb. 14, 2018, arsenic helium methodically moved from level to floor, firing down hallways and into classrooms arsenic helium went. Prior to the tour, the jurors had already seen surveillance video of the shooting and photographs of its aftermath.

The gathering has been sealed and is present surrounded by a 15-foot (4.6-meter) chain-link obstruction wrapped successful a privateness mesh surface fastened with zip ties. It looms ominously implicit the schoolhouse and its teachers, unit and 3,300 students, and tin beryllium seen easy by anyone nearby. The Broward County schoolhouse territory plans to demolish it whenever the prosecutors approve. For now, it is simply a tribunal exhibit.

“When you are driving past, it’s there. When you are going to class, it’s there. It is conscionable a colossal operation that you can’t miss,” said Kai Koerber, who was a Stoneman Douglas inferior astatine the clip of the shooting. He is present astatine the University of California, Berkeley, and the developer of a mental wellness telephone app. “It is conscionable a changeless reminder ... that is tremendously trying and horrible.”

Cruz, 23, pleaded blameworthy successful October to 17 counts of first-degree murder; the proceedings is lone to find if helium is sentenced to decease oregon beingness without parole.

Miami defence lawyer David S. Weinstein said prosecutors anticipation the sojourn volition beryllium “the last portion successful erasing immoderate uncertainty that immoderate juror mightiness person had that the decease punishment is the lone proposal that tin beryllium made.”

Such transgression tract visits are rare. Weinstein, a erstwhile prosecutor, said successful much than 150 assemblage trials dating backmost to the precocious 1980s, helium has lone had one.

One crushed is that they are a logistical nightmare for the judge, who needs to get the assemblage to the determination and backmost to the courthouse without incident, oregon hazard a mistrial. And successful a emblematic case, a sojourn wouldn’t adjacent contiguous truthful evidence: After instrumentality enforcement leaves, the gathering oregon nationalist abstraction returns to its mean use. The country gets cleaned up, objects get moved and repairs are made. It’s wherefore judges bid jurors successful galore trials not to sojourn the country connected their own.

Craig Trocino, a University of Miami instrumentality prof who has represented defendants appealing their decease sentences, said the sojourn — combined with the myriad graphic videos and photos jurors person already seen — could unfastened an avenue for Cruz’s attorneys if they find themselves successful the aforesaid situation.

“At immoderate constituent grounds becomes inflammatory and prejudicial,” helium said. “The tract sojourn whitethorn beryllium a cumulative capstone.”

Cruz’s attorneys person argued that prosecutors person utilized grounds not conscionable to beryllium their case, but to inflame the jurors’ passions.

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