The defense suspended the case in the conviction of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz in a bombing that derailed the proceedings and sparked a furious reaction from the judge.
Cruz’s legal team previously said it plans to call some 80 witnesses who are trying to persuade jurors to sentence Cruz to life without parole instead of death.
Since the public defense team began representing their case on August 22, less than half of these witnesses have been summoned.
Before the judges entered the courtroom on Wednesday morning, Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked the lawyer who she was calling as the next witness and which team member would question them.
It was then that the defense made the shocking announcement that it was ending its case.
“Your Honor, the defense is at the moment,” said Cruz’s lawyer.
The move surprised an entire courtroom, and the prosecution replied that they expected another 40 defense witnesses, and were therefore not prepared to overthrow them.
Judge Elizabeth Scherer looked baffled in the announcement, telling them, “We don’t play chess.”
After recovering from the initial shock, she began scathingly rebuking the defense team, calling them the most “unprofessional” actions she had ever encountered in her career.
“I just want to say that this is the most inappropriate, unprofessional way to handle a case,” she furious.
“You all knew it, and even if you didn’t make a decision by this morning, 22 people, all the staff, and every lawyer marched to the court and waited like in some game.
“Now I’m gonna have to send them home. The state is not ready. They won’t have a witness ready. We have another day wasted.
“Honestly, I have never experienced such unprofessionalism in my career. It’s unbelievable. “
When Cruz’s attorney tried to answer, the judge said she “didn’t want to hear it.”
“The judge is insulting me on the record in front of my client and I think I should have the right,” she said.
Judge Scherer cut her off, accusing the defense attorney of “insulting” her “entire trial.”
“Okay, you can write it down later, but you insulted me throughout the process, blatantly… taking off my headphones, arguing with me, running away, being deliberately late if you don’t like my ruling.” Honestly, it was very late, ”she said.
Since the defense has closed their case, Cruz will not be summoned to testify in his own defense.
Zachary Cruz, the brother of the mass shooter, is also absent from the defense witnesses who gave their testimony.
Cruz has been heard under oath by a judge for a decision and whether he understands that – by postponing the case – he has waived his right to testify or call other witnesses. He agreed “yes ma’am” that he was pleased with his team’s decision.
Cruz, then 19, murdered 17 students and staff in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.