Jury selection in the death penalty trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was snagged Monday when one potential juror’s T-shirt honoring the victims got her entire group of 10 dismissed.
Cruz has already pleaded guilty to killing 17 people and wounding 17 others on Valentine’s Day 2018 in the US ‘deadliest high school shooting. He also apologized to the families in the October court appearance.
He is now undergoing a penalty trial to determine whether he’ll receive a death sentence or life in prison. He was 19 at the time.
The female potential juror, a 58-year-old high school teacher, was brought in separately from the other group because of her assertion that a medical condition would prevent her from sitting for long periods, The Associated Press reported.
She told Cruz’s lead public defender, Melisa McNeill, that she had not spoken to the other jurors but that they had all seen her shirt. After she left the room, the defense and prosecution agreed that the T-shirt could become an issue if Cruz receives and appeals a death sentence.
The burgundy T-shirt was emblazoned with “Teacher Strong,” “#NeverAgain” and #MSDStrong, “according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“She obviously did that to get out of jury duty,” Judge Elizabeth Scherer said, according to AP. “It was irresponsible.”
Deputies guarding the courtroom were instructed to forbid anyone else in similar attire from entering the jury room, the Sentinel reported.
There are three phases of jury selection, which began seven weeks ago, and this is the second phase, during which 400 of 1,900 originally questioned for availability are being vetted.
With News Wire Services