What type of gun was used in Parkland school shooting? Jurors shown Nikolas Cruz’s rifle during sentencing trial

The defense objected to the display of weapons and tactical gear in court (image via Amy Beth Bennett/AP)
The defense objected to the display of weapons and tactical gear in court (image via Amy Beth Bennett/AP)

On Monday, at the sentencing of accused mass shooter Nikolas Cruz, jurors were shown the AR-15 style rifle he had allegedly used to murder 17 and injure 17 others at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

In 2018, a 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Stoneman Douglas High, reportedly entered the school premises and open fired at students and teachers. CNN reported that after the mass shooting, he escaped authorities by blending in with other students, visiting both Subway and McDonalds before authorities eventually apprehended him.

At his penalty trial, lead prosecutor Mike Satz showed jurors a black semi-automatic Smith & Wesson that had been left behind at the shooting scene. Records show that Nikolas Cruz legally purchased it.

The trial of Nikolas Cruz

As per the Independent, prosecutors had previously shown jurors footage of the bulletproof vest allegedly worn by Nikolas Cruz during the attack. Cruz's defense has objected to the display of tactical gear and weapons at the trial, claiming it lacked relevance. The objections were not accepted by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, presiding over the trial.

CBS reported that the defense objected to Mike Satz placing the gun on the floor in front of viewers, as common practice is to put weapons on the evidence table.

In response to the defense's objections, the prosecution team retorted that the display of combat equipment was crucial if they were to communicate the scale and preparation involved in the massacre.

In an interview with ABC, Miami criminal defense attorney David S. Weinstein told the outlet that he agreed with the defense because he did not believe the evidence was relevant. He said that since Cruz reportedly pleaded guilty last October to avoid the death penalty, the presentation of weapons and tactical gear would only be used to create a reactionary response from the jurors.

The criticism of Weinstein and the defense team extended to the presentation of surveillance footage from the shooting, as well as photos of the victims. While this media was not shown in the gallery, where victims' families were present, the defense shared autopsies and images of dead bodies extensively throughout the trial.

As per CBS, the sentencing hearing will determine whether or not Nikolas Cruz receives the death penalty or life in prison. The hearing is expected to last until November. The jurors will vote 17 times, with one vote representing the punishment Cruz shall receive for each victim killed in the attack.

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Edited by Sayati Das