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Parkland school shooting latest news: Jury hears opening statement in Nikolas Cruz death penalty sentencing trial

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(FILE) Footage released showing officer standing outside Parkland school as shooting took place

Nikolas Cruz, the man convicted of shooting dead 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February 2018, is facing the sentencing trial for his crimes.

Cruz, a former student at the school, was just 19 when he went on a shooting spree in what proved to be one of the deadliest school massacres in US history.

He subsequently surrendered to police and pleaded guilty to 17 charges of first-degree murder and 17 of attempted murder.

Cruz was a member of the school’s air rifle team who had been expelled over his disciplinary record. He had arrived at the school with a legally purchased AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and gunned down 14 students and three staff members. The shooting had sparked a nationwide protest movement demanding tighter gun control measures.

While prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cruz, his attorneys are hoping for a life term.

WARNING – Graphic content: Video captured by students that day was played in court with audio broadcast publicly.

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Arguments Cruz’s lawyers can present to lower his sentence

The Parkland shooting convict Nikolas Cruz, facing his sentencing trial in the deadliest US mass shooting, could face death or life without the possibility of parole.

However, his team can point to several mitigating factors to lower his punishment and state that he has had no criminal history, and that the then 19-year-old was under extreme mental or emotional disturbance.

The attorneys can also tell the jury about whether his capacity to appreciate his conduct’s criminality or conform it to the laws was substantially impaired.

Cruz’s team can present evidence such as:

  • His birth mother abused alcohol and drugs during pregnancy leading to damaging his brain and causing Cruz to be intellectually disabled, which Cruz’s attorneys have maintained. They have linked this to his behavioural problems starting preschool.
  • Sexual abuse by a “trusted peer”
  • Death of adopted father at the age of five in front of him, following which his adoptive mother had to raise him and his brother alone
  • His adoptive mother also abused alcohol and died less than four months before the massacre
  • He was aged 19, immature, when he went on a shooting rampage
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Video shows Nikolas Cruz’s reaction as audio of shooting played in court

The court on Monday played the audio of gunfire by Nikolas Cruz to the gallery where parents of the victims were present. The audio was recorded by witness of the shooting Danielle Gilbert on her cell phone, who was also present in the court.

While the parents and other people attending the hearing could not see the video, the jury was able to see the video of the gunfire opened on the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in Florida.

As the audio was being played out for nearly two minutes, many family members were seen tearing up and some were also seen running out of the court.

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What happened during the Parkland massacre?

As the Parkland community braces for the sentencing trial for Nikolas Cruz, the man who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, The Independent’s Rachel Sharp investigates what led up to the massacre and what’s happened since.

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How did Parkland shooter Cruz react during prosecution opening statement

Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy describes the reactions of Nikolas Cruz as the prosecution recounted the horrifying events of 14 February 2018.

As the court watched the harrowing video clips taken by survivors of the massacre, Cruz put his head in his hands as he sat flanked by his lawyers.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz looks down as the penalty phase of his trial gets underway

(AP)

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Hero’s widow opens up about trauma as Parkland victims remembered

Chris Hixon was murdered along with 16 other people in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. His widow Debbi Hixon tells The Independent’s Rachel Sharp how she hopes the sentencing trial of his killer will finally enable her family to start to grieve.

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Five bystanders shot when Denver police open fire at man with gun

Police officers shot and injured five bystanders when they opened fire into a bustling crowd early after a man pointed a gun in their direction, the Denver Police Department said.

Early on Sunday morning, a group of police officers were patrolling a popular nightlife area in downtown Denver as bars began to close. One man in the crowd, 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, reportedly pointed a gun in the direction of police, leading the officers to draw their own weapons and open fire while bar-goers continued pouring onto the streets.

Johanna Chisholm has the story.

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‘It’s very difficult to listen to’

Watch Law & Crime’s Angenette Levy recap the opening statement of prosecutor Michael Satz on the first day of the Nikolas Cruz sentencing trial for the Parkland high school massacre.

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Indiana mall shooting: Gunman identified as four dead and two injured

The suspect in the Indiana mall shooting that left three people dead and two others injured has been identified as 20-year-old Jonathan Sapirman.

Sapirman, of Greenwood, was killed after he opened fire in the Greenwood Park Mall on Sunday evening, police announced Monday.

The three innocent victims killed in the shooting were also named as Pedro Pineda, 56; Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37; and Victor Gomez, 30. All three were from Indianapolis.

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Court in recess for the day

The state’s next witness is not due in town until this evening and so court is breaking early today.

The jury is excused for the day by Judge Scherer.

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