Childhood photos of Nikolas Cruz posing with family were shown in court amid Florida school shooter sentencing
The trial has revealed how Cruz’s childhood experiences left him isolated and insecure.
Defense attorneys began arguments Tuesday by building on testimony that cocaine and alcohol abuse by Cruz’s birth mother when she was pregnant left him with severe brain damage.
They claimed this had set him on a path that led him to murder 14 students and three staff at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Lawyers also delved into the shooter’s childhood after photos of his younger self posing with his family and attending preschool were shown.
Attorneys said deep mental health issues were discovered early on in Cruz but were never properly addressed.
Testimony from Cruz’s preschool teacher revealed that he got into fights with other children, barely spoke and sometimes acted like an animal.
“I should have done a little more to make him a better person,” said Anne Marie Fischer, former director of Young Minds Learning Center, the preschool Cruz attended.
Fischer, who ran the preschool that Cruz attended when he was one, said he did not walk as fast as other children and was smaller than them.
Fischer also said he was intellectually and physically behind other children, and she raised concerns with his adoptive parents and with state early learning officials.
She said that while the other toddlers could ask for their water cups and use a spoon, Cruz could not. She said he would fall down when he tried to run and his head and ears seemed disproportionate to his body.
“He isolated himself a lot. He would sit in the corner and observe, Fischer said. “Because of his language delays, it was easier to use your hands because you didn’t have the words to express yourself.”
He pushed other kids because he “didn’t know how to express himself,” she said.
Cruz is on trial to determine whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison for the 17 murders he committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Defense attorneys hope that by explaining the defendant’s story, he can be saved from a death sentence or the time served could be reduced.