Defense suddenly rests in Fla. school shooting case

Cruz’s attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning of Wednesday’s court session after calling only about 25.

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National News

September 14, 2022 - 4:15 PM

Judge Elizabeth Scherer speaks in court just after the defense team announced the intention to rest their case during the penalty trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz suddenly and surprisingly rested their case Wednesday, leading to a shouting match after the judge accused them of a lack of professionalism.

Cruz’s attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning of Wednesday’s court session after calling only about 25. There were 11 days of defense testimony overall, the last two spotlighting experts about how his birth mother’s heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy might have affected his brain’s development.

The sudden announcement by lead attorney Melisa McNeill led to a heated exchange between her and Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who called the decision without warning to her or the prosecution “the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case.”

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