FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz calmly told a psychologist why he chose Valentine’s Day to slaughter 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland four years ago: Because no one liked him, he wanted to ruin the holidays of anyone associated with the school forever.

Prosecutors concluded their rebuttal brief on Thursday after releasing this video clip of prison interviews Cruz did with their psychologist hoping it bolsters their claim that he was not driven to kill by a mental disorder that he couldn’t control, but planned his attack and chose to wear it out.

They’re trying to convince jurors that they should sentence Cruz, 24, to death on Feb. 14, 2018, Fort Lauderdale suburban school massacre. He pleaded guilty a year ago. For the former Stoneman Douglas student to be sentenced to death, the jury of seven men and five women must be unanimous. Otherwise, his sentence will be life without parole.

Cruz’s attorneys argued throughout the trial that his birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnancy left him with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, causing brain dysfunctions that led to bizarre life episodes, erratic and sometimes violent conduct that culminated in the shootings. After several attempts that were blocked by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, they were also able to tell jurors Thursday that Cruz believes he was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by a neighbor when he was 9 years old.

Robert Denney, a Missouri neuropsychologist testifying for the prosecution, interviewed and tested Cruz last March for three days — under Florida law, if defense attorneys say their client has a mental disability, prosecutors can conduct their own review.

Denney testified earlier that he thinks Cruz deliberately misperformed the tests in an attempt to mimic severe brain dysfunction. He reiterated his belief on Thursday that Cruz doesn’t have fetal alcohol issues, but does have antisocial personality disorder — simply put, he’s a sociopath.

He said that Cruz understands reality and can control his actions when it suits him. He said this differentiates antisocial personality disorder from schizophrenia or delusions, where the person acts on false thoughts that they cannot control.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Marcus released two videos of Denney’s interviews with Cruz. In the first, Cruz describes his torture of animals like toads and lizards in his childhood, a question that has come up many times.

“I burned them, I tortured them, I skinned them alive, I shot them,” Cruz said emotionlessly. “I would play with their corpses or eat them.”

In the second video, Denney asks Cruz as he wraps up his second and final day of interviews if there’s “anything important that I haven’t asked you?”

Cruz thought for about 10 seconds, then replied, “Why did I choose Valentine’s Day.” He then explained himself.

“Because I thought nobody would like me,” Cruz said. “I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and wanted to ruin it for everyone.” A slight gasp arose from the parents and relatives of the victim seated in the courtroom.

“You mean for the family members of the children who were killed? Denney asked.

“No, for school,” Cruz replied. The party will never again be celebrated there, he said.

Marcus then read the names of the 17 victims and after each asked Denney if fetal alcohol syndrome could explain why Cruz murdered that person. No, Denney answered 17 times.

Cross-examined by defense attorney Casey Secor, Denney admitted that Cruz said in their interviews that he remembered being assaulted and raped by a neighbor three years his senior. This is a question that the defense wanted to present on several occasions, but Judge Scherer ruled that the only three people who could corroborate the charge were not available. Cruz’s adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz, died months before the shooting, and the alleged rapist and his mother no longer live in the United States and cannot be compelled to appear as witnesses.

In video clips played for the jury, Cruz told Denney and another expert that his mother tried to convince him that the assault never happened, but he is 75% to 80% certain that it has occurred. He said the older boy would tell him he could play his video games if he let him mug him.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday. Deliberations would begin on Wednesday.



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