Jury Selection Begins at Sentencing Trial for Parkland Mass Shooter

A jury must unanimously decide if Nikolas Cruz gets life in prison or the death penalty for killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Charles Lambeth and Joey Wong (l-r) alumni of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School look on at the school on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz for the mass shooting that killed 17 people on February 14. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

After pleading guilty last year to killing 17 people and wounding 17 others, a jury is expected to decide if a 23-year-old mass shooter will spend the rest of his life in prison or be given the death penalty.

On Monday, jury selection began for the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, then a 19-year-old gunman who shot dozens of people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

About 1,500 potential jurors are expected to go through the screening process, which will whittle down the pool to 12 jurors and eight alternates. They must unanimously decide the shooter's sentence.

The screening process, which began with the circuit court judge interviewing potential jurors about hardships and conflicts, is expected to continue through May.

"For Day 1, things went rather smoothly," said Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, the Associated Press reported.

Of the 60 people who participated in the first group, only 18 people were asked to fill out a questionnaire about themselves, the Miami Herald reported.

Lawyers will be given copies of the questionnaires in advance of the next round, the AP reported.

Once a jury is selected, the trial is expected to last four months, from June to September.

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Parents and family members of some of the victims attended the first day, the AP reported, and are expected to testify in the emotional trial.

Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina was killed in the shooting, told the AP that he's been waiting for the trial to begin.

"I just hope everyone remembers the victims," he said. "[The shooter] told the world his plans on social media, carried out those plans in a cold and calculated manner and murdered my beautiful daughter, 13 of her classmates and three of her teachers."

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