FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The start date of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s sentencing trial has been pushed back.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer had previously ordered it to start in early January 2022. In an order issued, December 29th, Scherer said that has changed.

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“The Court previously set this matter down for a trial date in January, 2022. Both parties, however, have represented to this Court that they each need additional time to prepare their experts for trial and will not be ready to commence trial on the scheduled January date,” wrote Scherer in the order.

Scherer wrote that the start date has been moved to February 21, 2022.

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Last October, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, leaving a jury to decide whether he will be executed for the deadliest high school shooting in US history.

The guilty pleas set the stage for a penalty trial in which 12 jurors will determine whether the 23-year-old should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

Given the case’s notoriety, plans to screen thousands of prospective jurors.

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Cruz’s defense team has tried to get the death penalty taken off the table to no avail. The prosecution has said they plan to seek it. To impose a death sentence, all 12 jurors must agree. If they do, Judge Scherer will make the final decision.

CBSMiami.com Team