A Florida judge has denied a request from the lawyer of Nikolas Cruz, 23, who shot and killed 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, to delay a sentencing hearing.
The lawyers for Cruz argued that because of recent mass shootings in both Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, a nationwide "wave of emotions" has been released that could cause a bias on the jury's decision-making, and said that the July 18 start of the sentencing trial is too soon.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the request on Thursday, stating that the long process that was made to seat the jury didn't show any issues that would be related to the shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.
"There has not been any negative impact to his fair trial rights and there is no basis to continue this matter," Scherer wrote in the ruling.
Cruz pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 people at the Florida high school on Feb. 14, 2018.
The jury that was finalized this week is determining whether Cruz will be handed the death penalty or spend his life in prison.
Cruz's sentencing trial is likely to last nearly four months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.