Accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz can’t be called or referred to in disparaging terms like “animal” of “the thing” by the prosecution and witnesses during his trial, a judge ruled Friday.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said that it would be impossible to create a list of all acceptable and unacceptable phrases, but agreed that “animal” — which many of the victims’ families have called Cruz in media interviews — goes too far when referring to the accused mass murderer.
“A trial is not the time for the attorneys to editorialize or give their opinions of a defendant,” Scherer wrote in her ruling. “The trial attorneys shall present the evidence, and the jury shall make their determinations based on the evidence presented.”
Scherer denied the defense’s request that Cruz only be called “the defendant” or by his name, as well as a request to only refer to the massacre as “the incident,” “the mass shooting” or “the tragedy,” ruling they are not inflammatory.
“Some words and terms the Defendant requests not to be used, such as ‘school shooter,’ ‘murderer,’ or ‘killer,’ in and of themselves are not derogatory,” she wrote. “They are normal words that may be used to describe particular facts.”
She also ruled that calling the deadly shooting “a massacre” is an acceptable reference to the Feb. 14. 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others.
Cruz, 22, has pleaded not guilty to the killings, however his attorneys have said they would plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.
He faces a possible death sentence if convicted in the shooting, among the deadliest in US history.
No trial date has been set.
With Post wires