Nikolas Cruz’s defense says his brain was ‘poisoned’ by birth mother’s addictions in death penalty trial
Infographic explaining effects of alcohol use during pregnancy

Should someone with an intellectual/developmental disability like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD, formerly Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) ever be sentenced to death? The defense for Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is arguing that due to intellectual disability caused by FASD, in conjunction with severe mental illness symptoms, it is not acceptable to issue a death penalty sentence. One important reason why is because executing individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities for any reason would be a precarious precedent to set.

According to CNN reporting:

In opening statements Monday, Cruz’s public defender Melisa McNeill laid out his difficult family life, including his birth mother’s history of addiction and the death of his adoptive parents Lynda and Roger Cruz.

McNeill called Cruz a “damaged and wounded” person and said attorneys plan to show the court disturbing things he said and wrote, his obsessions with guns and devils and even his school shooting “manifesto.”

“His brain is broken,” she said. “He’s a damaged human being. And that’s why these things happen.”

McNeill also laid out Cruz’s interactions with the public education system, which she said proved unable to address his issues.

Cruz had developmental delays early in his childhood, including his difficulty communicating with others. He would bite others, lash out emotionally and was impaired intellectually, McNeill said.

Cruz first received special education services at age 6, struggling in school socially and academically throughout his young life, she said.