The defense team, which started presenting its side in August, unexpectedly rested its case last month after calling about 25 of its 80 listed witnesses. The decision angered Judge Elizabeth A. Scherer, who accused Ms. McNeill of unprofessionalism. The defense then tried to disqualify the judge, arguing that she was biased. The judge, who has clashed repeatedly with the defense in the years since Mr. Cruz’s legal proceedings began, rejected the motion.
The emotional trial involved tearful testimony from teachers and students who lived through the shooting, grisly autopsy photographs, detailed descriptions from medical examiners and a jury tour of the shuttered high school building where the shooting took place. The defense team called Mr. Cruz’s half sister, who is herself in jail awaiting trial on unrelated criminal charges, to testify. They also put former teachers, caretakers and friends of his adoptive mother on the witness stand to piece together an account of his troubled childhood.
In the end, Mr. Satz told jurors that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt seven aggravating factors out of 16 that, according to Florida law, justify the death penalty. These factors outweigh the mitigating circumstances presented by the defense about Mr. Cruz’s childhood, mental health and upbringing, he added. Aggravating factors include that the murders were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel and that they were committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner; the death penalty is justified under Florida law if at least one of them is met.
Mr. Satz recited from memory one of the videos that Mr. Cruz had recorded on his cellphone ahead of the shooting, describing his plans. The prosecutor noted how the defendant’s backpack had swastikas and a racial slur scrawled on it, as well as how he had tortured animals, posted misogynistic comments online and written that he wanted kill “a ton of people and children.”
“It is said that what one writes and says is a window into their soul,” Mr. Satz said.
He had the jury rewatch surveillance footage of Mr. Cruz shooting each of his victims, reminding them that Mr. Cruz had shot 139 rounds and killed 14 children and three adults. In some cases, the defendant returned to injured victims to kill them. He shot some of them up close, including a 14-year-old girl shot in the chest and abdomen.
“They all knew what was going on, what was going to happen,” Mr. Satz said.