An unnamed juror reported a perceived threat from a fellow juror as the panel deliberated mass killer Nikolas Cruz’s punishment, the prosecution said.
The prosecutor who unsucessfully urged a Florida jury to condemn the Parkland school mass shooter to death has asked for an investigation into a juror’s allegation of a perceived threat by another member of the panel.
An unnamed juror identified as Juror X informed a court staffer that “during deliberations she received what she perceived to be a threat from a fellow juror while in the jury room,” the prosecution said in a filing asking Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to order police to interview the juror, according to CNN. “The State did not call Juror X back and instead, filed a Notice to the Court,” the filing added.
After deliberating for two days, the jury on Thursday recommended Nikolas Cruz be sentenced to life in prison for killing 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. The prosecution argued Cruz deserved the death penalty, a sentence that would have required unanimous agreement from the 12-member panel.
Denise Cunha, a member of the jury, wrote in a note to the judge on Thursday that the conversation among jurors was “tense.” Cunha denied she decided voting against the death penalty before the trial even started, according to The Associated Press.
“The deliberations were very tense and some jurors became extremely unhappy once I mentioned that I would vote for life,” Cunha wrote in the note. It’s unclear whether she is the person the prosecutor identified as Juror X.
Jury foreperson Benjamin Thomas told CBS News Miami he was disappointed with the panel’s sentencing decision, but said everyone is entitled to an opinion. He said the verdict came down to one juror who argued Cruz should not get the death penalty because he was mentally ill.
“There was one with a hard no, she couldn’t do it and there were another two that ended up, you know, voting the same way,” Thomas said.
The decision enraged some of the families of those killed.
“You set a precedent for the next mass killing,” said Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the rampage.
The judge, who must follow the jury’s recommendation, will formally sentence Cruz on Nov. 1.