Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said in a ruling on Friday that, it’s impossible to create a complete list of words that jurors shouldn’t hear to describe Nikolas Cruz when he’s tried for the February 14th 2018 fatal shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.
Cruz accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school cannot be called derogatory terms such as “animal” or “that thing” by prosecutors or their witnesses at his upcoming trial, but calling the killings “a massacre” is legitimate, the judge has ruled.
Some words and terms the Defendant requests not to be used, such as ‘school shooter,’ “murderer, killer, in and of themselves are not derogatory, they are normal words that may be used to describe particular facts,” Scherer Stated.
She also added that the request by Cruz’s attorneys that the killings only be referred to as “the incident,” the “mass shooting” or “the tragedy” also goes too far, saying terms like “massacre” are legitimate and not derogatory or inflammatory.
She also cautioned prosecutors that they must act professionally when referring to Cruz, and warn their witnesses to avoid obviously derogatory names when testifying against him.
She said if Cruz’s attorneys believe anyone crosses the line, they can object immediately and she will rule in court.
“A trial is not the time for the attorneys to editorialize or give their opinions of a defendant, the trial attorneys shall present the evidence, and the jury shall make their determinations based on the evidence presented,” she added.
22-year-old Cruz has pleaded “not guilty,” but his attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
Prosecutors are alternatively seeking the death penalty and have rejected the offer, reports sates.
Officials are yet to set a date for trial.