FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In the third and final stage of jury selection in the Parkland school shooter’s penalty phase, attorneys are asking potential jurors a broader range of questions. On Wednesday, questions were asked like what they did for a living, if they owned firearms, their views on law enforcement and how they felt about violent video games, specifically Call of Duty.
Lead prosecutor Michael Satz: “Own any firearms?”
Respondent: “I own one handgun – semi automatic.”
Satz: “How do you feel about the way police officers do their job?”
Another respondent: “They are doing the best they can.”
Public defender Nawal Najet Bashiman probed jurors about the possible impact of sensitive evidence that could evoke strong emotion.
“You will see bloody photos and horrific injuries on those people,” she said.
It is anticipated that the jury will visit the 1200 building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has been preserved as a crime scene since the deadly 2018 school shooting.
Bashiman followed up by asking if anyone believed that the visit would affect them hearing the defense team’s evidence about the shooter’s background.
Bashiman: “When you say it doesn’t make a difference, you would still listen to the guilty person’s background no matter what? Even walking through the crime scene.” The respondent said, “Yep.”
“Do you think it’s appropriate for a 12, 13, 14-year-old child to play that kind of game?” Bashiman asked one potential juror about the active shooter game Call of Duty. He responded: “I have two sons and I didn’t allow that in the house.”
Legal analyst David Weinstein said these questions are ways to find out what makes each juror “tick.”
“The phase we are entering now, this third phase, it is more like a traditional jury selection where the lawyers ask questions of the jurors. They find out about their background, what they do for a living, what part of town they are from, what they often read, what they watch on television, where they get their news from. They are trying to dig into the minds of the jurors to find out the way a juror thinks . . . what makes you tick, what do you think about, what do you use to make decisions in your everyday life. From the perspective of the prosecution and the defense, ‘Are you going to be a good juror for me, for my point of view?’ ”
The last 40 potential jurors will be seen on Thursday. Judge Elizabeth Scherer has set final jury selection for Tuesday, June 28, at 1:30 p.m. and she said she expects trial testimony to begin on July 6.
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