FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – A witness who took the stand in the penalty trial of the Parkland shooter provided a troubling portrait of the defendant’s domestic situation in the years leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Nikolas Cruz grew up in a home without enough food, former neighbor Paul Gold told jurors on Wednesday.
“The refrigerator was particularly empty. The cupboards, I saw the kids going in them. They were typically empty,” he said.
Gold, a witness for the defense, said he was so concerned for the family that he would buy groceries for them.
“It seemed like there was not enough food in the refrigerator. [Nikolas’ mother] also started padlocking the refrigerator,” he said.
Cruz’s father had already died at this point. The stress of raising two unruly boys proved quickly overwhelming for their mother, Linda.
When a defense attorney asked Gold whether she saw Linda consuming alcohol, Gold replied, “Yes, she drank quite a bit.”
Defense attorneys’ strategy is to find some sympathy in the jury. They just need one to not vote for the death penalty for the defendant in order to spare his life.
Like every witness who preceded him on the stand, Gold said Cruz, who just a few years later would kill 17 people, was very quick to lose his temper.
“It was just bizarre how angry he would become, and how volatile, and breaking whatever he could break,” he said.
When Linda died a few months before the massacre, it was Gold who gave Cruz and his brother a ride to the funeral, an event no one else would attend. It was possibly one of the final straws before the gunman’s deadly attack.
“I told him that when we had made the publications in the newspaper for her death, that we put the wrong date, unfortunately,” said Gold. “I was lying to him, but I could see that he was extremely distraught about that. I didn’t know what to tell him.”
Prosecutors warned jurors to take Gold’s testimony with a grain of salt. They played a jailhouse phone conversation from about a year ago where the witness and Cruz discussed the possibility of making a movie about his life.
“I’m amazed somebody hasn’t approached you about making a movie,” said Gold.
“My one buddy who worked with me, his name is Lee Allison, he’s a famous producer and actually made a couple of movies with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio,” said Cruz. “He’d been saying, ‘[Expletive], yeah, he comes over to the house all the time. He was the best man at this wedding, for God’s sake. Yeah, so he does movies all the time, and he’s putting me in as an extra, so I’m kind of excited about that.”
The trial resumes on Thursday.
Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.