A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida testified on Monday that the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, was seen around campus more than a year before the shooting that left 17 people dead carrying an orange backpack with a racial slur and a swastika.
The image was taken by Kyle Horrigan in September of 2016 and shows the vile statement “F—- you N——-” written in sloppy black letters atop a swastika.
Horrigan, who did not know Cruz, expressed surprise that someone would bring a weapon to school.
Fort Lauderdale prosecutors used Horrigan, who is now a fireman, as part of the state’s rebuttal case during the trial for the death sentence.
On Monday morning, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer and defense attorney Tamara Curtis had a heated debate out of the earshot of the jury about the admissibility of a letter written by Cruz.
Curtis asked if she may ask the witness any questions regarding the letter.
After a long sigh of annoyance, Scherer remarked, “I’m not going to tell you how to perform your cross-examination.”
Jurors saw excerpts from Dr. Charles Scott’s interview with Cruz in prison, in which Cruz revealed the meticulous preparation he put into the massacre on February 14, 2018, in which 14 students and three staff members were slain.
Cruz said he was motivated to carry out the attack after reading about the 1999 massacre at Columbian High School and that he picked Valentine’s Day because he had no one to love. Their breakup had occurred 18 months prior to the assault. He told Scott, a prosecution psychiatrist, “I researched mass killers and how they did it.” According to Scott, Cruz is a sociopath who has the ability to change his ways but chooses not to since he has no empathy.
The main issue in Cruz’s July 18 trial is whether he will be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. In October of last year, he entered a plea of guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and additional crimes.