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Parkland shooter's mind hopelessly broken, jury hears

Cruz's attorney Melisa McNeil contended that occasions before he was even conceived added to the assault

Legal counselors for a Florida school shooter have requested that a jury spare him capital punishment, contending that his "mind was hopelessly broken" inferable from a troublesome youth.

Nikolas Cruz, 23, confessed last year to killing 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018.

The preliminary will decide if he is executed or imprisoned forever.

The case is the deadliest mass shooting to arrive at a jury preliminary in the US.

On Monday Melisa McNeil, Cruz's lead legal counselor, said her client had been presented to medications and liquor while in his mom's belly, refering to this as a contributing variable to the slaughter.

"Thus, his cerebrum was hopelessly broken, through no shortcoming of his own," 

she said, considering him a "harmed individual", and portraying his spats with school authorities and police all through his life as a youngster in a took on home.

"We should grasp the individual behind the wrongdoing," 

Ms McNeil told the jury of seven men, five ladies and 10 substitute legal hearers.

Danielle Woodard, Cruz's biological sister

Image caption,
Danielle Woodard, Cruz's half-sister, described their mother as "horrible"

Cruz's half-sister, Danielle Woodard, also testified that her mother had abused drugs while the future school shooter was developing in "her polluted womb". She said her mother had told her that she was raped, reports the Miami Herald.

Ms Woodard, who is herself awaiting trial on a carjacking charge, described their mother as "horrible". As she prepared to give evidence on Monday, her half-brother nodded at her across the court.

When the trial began on 18 July, prosecutors argued that the defendant deserved to die for the "goal-directed, planned, systematic murder - mass murder - of 14 students, an athletic director, a teacher and a coach".

Jurors were shown gruesome video evidence from the crime scene, as well as video of the attacker calmly ordering a drink from a nearby shop minutes after the massacre, and later of him attacking a guard in jail.

They were also taken to the fenced-off school building where they toured the preserved crime scene. Balloons and cards for Valentine's Day were still scattered around the freshman building where Cruz fired around 150 shots from a semi-automatic rifle.

In her defence arguments, Ms McNeil argued that the seeds of the seven-minute massacre were sown years earlier, when her client's biological mother was working as a drug-addicted prostitute.

The first defence witness on Monday was a recovering addict who said she worked as a prostitute with Cruz's late birth mother, Brenda Woodard, in the 1990s when she became pregnant with the boy.

Carolyn Deakins said Woodard had abused cocaine, marijuana and alcohol throughout her pregnancy, and that "she didn't care" because she planned to put the baby up for adoption.

Cruz's adoptive father died shortly after he came into the home, and his adopted mother, Lynda Cruz, had ignored troubles he was having at school, his lawyer said.

A photo of Cruz's drug-addicted birth mother was shown to the courtIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
Image caption,
A photo of Cruz's drug-addicted birth mother was shown to the court

She removed him from psychiatric programmes that could have helped him curtail the violent episodes he was having as a young child in pre-school, Ms McNeil said.

Deeply in debt after her husband's death, Lynda Cruz had refused to have the troubled youth committed to a mental hospital because she did not want to stop receiving his Social Security benefits cheque each month, according to Ms McNeil.

The adoptive mother, who died several months before the attack, bought him a BB gun and airgun before getting him a rifle for his 18th birthday.

At the time of his guilty plea last October, Cruz said he was "very sorry" for the shooting.

All 12 jurors must vote unanimously in order for him to be put to death.

"Our kids died in the Parkland school shooting, but we disagree on guns"



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