School shooter who slaughtered 17 people cant be called an animal at trial

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An accused school shooter can't be called or referred to by terms like "animal" or "the thing" by witnesses or the prosecution during his trial, a judge ruled on Friday.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said that it would be impossible to create a list of all acceptable and unacceptable phrases but that calling 22-year-old Nikolas Cruz an "animal" goes too far.

This phrase has been used by many of the victim's families to describe Cruz in media interviews.

"A trial is not the time for the attorneys to editorialize or give their opinions of a defendant," Scherer wrote in her ruling.

"The trial attorneys shall present the evidence, and the jury shall make their determinations based on the evidence presented."

Scherer denied the defence's request that Cruz only be called by his name or "the defendant".

A request to only refer to the massacre as "the incident," "the mass shooting" or "the tragedy," was also denied due to the fact they were not deemed inflammatory, New York Post reports.

“Some words and terms the Defendant requests not to be used, such as ‘school shooter,’ ‘murderer,’ or ‘killer,’ in and of themselves are not derogatory,” she wrote.

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“They are normal words that may be used to describe particular facts.”

The judge also ruled that calling the deadly shooting "a massacre" is an acceptable reference to the heinous mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others.

Cruz, 22, has pleaded not guilty to the killings, but his attorneys have said they would plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

He could face a death sentence if convicted in the shooting which is among the deadliest in the history of the US.

No trial date has currently been set.

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