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Judge Blasts Parkland Gunman’s Public Defenders For Whining About Victims’ Parents

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Things got very heated at the sentencing hearing for the gunman behind the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Tuesday after family members of dead students attacked defense attorneys for disrespecting the victims and their loved ones in court.

Several of the parents of children who were fatally shot at the Parkland high school on Feb. 14, 2018, used their victim impact statement time to criticize the behavior of the defense team that represented the killer, WPLG reported.

Michael Schulman, the father of murdered teacher Scott Beigel, confronted the defense team for their behavior during the trial and specifically brought up an incident that occurred before a pre-trial hearing.

Video showed Broward County Public Defender Tamara Harris giving the finger to a courtroom camera and her client bursting into laughter over it in front of rows of victims’ family members.

“This man, this animal, this piece of s-t, this bastard took the lives of 17 people,” Schulman told the defense attorneys. “You have a right to defend him. You have no right, no right to demean the people who lost somebody. None.”

He called the public defender’s team unprofessional.

“Zealous representation of a confessed murderer does not mean flipping the bird when you think the cameras aren’t on you,” the grieving father said. “You should be embarrassed.”

Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin Oliver was shot four times during the gunman’s school shooting spree, addressed the disrespect in his statement as well, video from the courtroom showed.

“You shot my kid four times. You blew his head. His marvelous brain and ideas and dreams. You destroyed him,” the grieving father said.

He said he saw it as the duty of the Parkland parents to “come here and let you know what is right or wrong—when you f-k with our childrens.”

Annika Dworet, who attended every day of the trial of the killer of their 17-year-old son, Nicholas Dworet, with her husband Mitch, called being in the same room with the “monster” who killed her son “unbearable,” the Daily Beast reported.

“One of the most disgusting and unprofessional actions that occurred in this courtroom was the defense team holding, touching, and giggling with this cold-blooded murderer,” the angry mother said.

When one of the public defenders got up and complained about the family members addressing the defense attorneys, the judge presiding over the trial became very angry, courtroom video showed.

“When these people are upset about specific things that have gone on from that table, like shooting the middle finger up at this court, and laughing, and joking—Mrs. McNeill, be quiet—when these people have sat in this courtroom and watched this behavior from that table and they want to say that they’re not happy about it, what is the problem?” a clearly angry Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked.

The public defender complained that some family members had mentioned the defense attorneys’ children when making their statements and the judge said she hadn’t heard it, WPLG reported.

“I can assure you that if somebody was talking about your children you would definitely notice it,” he replied.

Scherer ordered the defense attorney arguing with her to take a seat beside his boss in the back of the courtroom, the video showed.

“You need to sit down right now! In fact, you are excused,” Scherer said.

The judge said nobody in the courtroom knew whether she was “barren” or had children and called the defense attorney unprofessional several times.

Then Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes got up and started arguing with the judge.

“Judge, the same venom that the court is expressing is the same venom that defense counsel had to sit through,” Weekes complained.

Scherer pointed out that McNeill had chosen to mention her own children during her defense and told the chief public defender to sit down, the video showed.

Weekes argued that he had wanted a sidebar, was again denied a sidebar, and then asked for a recess and was denied, WPLG reported.

“You are inappropriate and out of line. Go sit down,” Scherer said. “We are moving on with the sentencing.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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