FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It's been four years since school shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 students and three staff members. The shooting also injured 17 more people.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Now, a panel of jurors will decide whether he will be put to death or face life in prison.
It's the deadliest mass shooting ever to go to trial, and it's seen a number of delays and setbacks since Cruz first appeared in court in 2018.
Here's a timeline of the trial of confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.
- July 17, 2019: Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer granted Cruz permission to skip several pre-trial hearings a per request from his attorneys.
- Oct. 17, 2019: Cruz's trial date was set for Jan. 27, 2020. His lawyers previously said Cruz would plead guilty in exchange for a life in prison sentence, but prosecutors refused to drop their pursuit of the death penalty.
- Nov. 18, 2019: Cruz's defense team filed a motion to have Judge Elizabeth Scherer dismissed from the case after the attorneys argued they were not given enough time to prepare.
- June 22, 2020: After facing several delays due to arguments over evidence and testimony, Cruz's trial was put off indefinitely because of restrictions related to the coronavirus.
- Oct. 19, 2021: The families of those killed, wounded and scarred in the Parkland school massacre reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County school district.
- Oct. 20, 2021: Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. The decision by Cruz to plead guilty came unexpectedly as he was set to go on trial for attacking a Broward County jail guard in 2018.
- Dec. 30, 2021: After setting her sights on a January start date, Judge Elizabeth Scherer postponed Cruz's penalty trial, where he was set to be sentenced, until Feb. 21.
- Feb. 2, 2022: The penalty trial was delayed again, this time until April so prosecutors could have more time to interview mental health experts who were expected to testify.
- March 16, 2022: The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed a $127.5 million settlement with the families of those killed over the FBI's failure to investigate a tip it received about a month before the massacre.
- April 4, 2022: Jury selection began in the penalty trial with preliminary screening for the panel that will determine whether Nikolas Cruz will be put to death or spend life in prison without parole.
The screening process is expected to take several weeks as court officials say 1,500 candidates or more could be brought before the judge. In order for Cruz to receive the death penalty, 12 jurors must make a unanimous decision.
The trial brings some closure to a South Florida community four years after the attack that sparked a nationwide movement for gun control.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Parkland student activists formed March for Our Lives, a group that rallied hundreds of thousands around the country for tighter gun laws, including a nationally televised march in Washington, D.C.
These are the names of the 17 people killed during the Parkland school shooting:
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Scott Beigel, 35
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Aaron Fies, 37
Jaime Guttenberg, 14
Christopher Hixon, 49
Luke Hoyer, 15
Cara Loughran, 14
Gina Montalto, 14
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Alaina Petty, 14
Meadow Pollack, 18
Helena Ramsay, 17
Alexander Schachter, 14
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Peter Wang, 15