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Judge in Parkland school shooter trial refuses to step down after defense request over outburst

Elizabeth Scherer - DAY 4 - Parkland-Sentencing.jpeg
Amy Beth Bennett
South Florida Sun Sentinel
Judge Elizabeth Scherer, seen during jury pre-selection in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

The judge for the Parkland school shooter penalty trial has refused to step down from the case after a request from defense attorneys.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer made her ruling Monday afternoon during a hearing on what evidence and witnesses the prosecutors can call during their rebuttal case later this month.

The defense team for Nikolas Cruz filed their request to remove the judge last Friday following an outburst she made towards them. They said the her animosity “has infected this entire trial.”

Scherer lambasted the defense team on Wednesday, Sept. 14, after they unexpectedly rested their case. “I just want to say this is the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case,” she told lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill.

When McNeill tried to explain, Scherer cut her off. “You've been insulting me the entire trial," she said.

"So blatantly taking your headphones off arguing with me, storming out, coming late intentionally if you don't like my rulings. So, quite frankly, this has been long overdue. So please be seated,” the judge said.

Prosecutors argued that the judge’s outburst wasn't heard by the jury so it won't jeopardize his right to a fair trial.

In her ruling Monday, Scherer wrote that the defenses motion to have her step down was "legally insufficient." She did not otherwise address the motion during the hearing, which continues this afternoon.

Gerard Albert III is back in Broward, where he grew up, after reporting on crime and public safety in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and West Palm Beach. Albert is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University.