The attorney representing Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, asked the judge presiding over the case to ban the words “killer” and “massacre” from the trial.
Cruz’s attorney told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Wednesday that her client should only be called by his name or as “the defendant,” and the shooting that killed over a dozen people should only be called “the incident,” “the tragedy,” or the “mass shooting.”
“We are not making effort, as the state has alleged, to minimize or purify what happened,” defense attorney Melisa McNeill said during a hearing on Wednesday that was held over Zoom, according to Local 10 in Fort Lauderdale. “The evidence speaks for itself, and it’s not necessary to invite error into the record with these prejudicial references.”
The families of the victims of the shooting condemned the attempt to ban the words from the trial.
Cruz “is what he is, and he did what he did,” said Beigel Schulman, whose son was a teacher and coach at MSD who was killed trying to help students. “It was a slaughter to shoot all those people with a weapon of war. He knew what he was doing, he wrote it all out, it was all on his cell phone.”
“The idea that they don’t want him to be called a murderer or say it was an execution is outrageous,” said Debbie Hixon, whose husband was also a coach at the school who was killed while trying to stop the shooting. “He is a murderer, and it was an execution, nothing will change that. I am so angry that we have to be concerned about how he feels or how he is portrayed.”
Prosecutor Nicole Chiappone said, “Especially when they adequately describe the defendant and what he did, what else do you call an event where somebody goes into a school and kills 17 innocent people? That is a massacre.”
She added, "Referring to this as ‘an incident’ or ‘a tragedy’ is insulting. This is far more.”
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