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Parkland shooter trial, Florida Sen. Taddeo’s bid for governor, and misinformation during AIDS and COVID

Miami Herald

The confessed Parkland shooter pleads guilty. State Senator Annette Taddeo announces her run for governor and a new exhibit looks at misinformation during the AIDS crisis in the '80s and COVID now.

On this Thursday, Oct. 21, edition of Sundial:

Parkland shooter trial

The trial of the confessed Parkland school shooter is moving faster than expected.

He pleaded guilty in court Wednesday to all of the charges related to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

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The trial now heads to the penalty phase.

“That is when a jury of 12 people — they're not there to decide if he's guilty or not. That's already [been decided]. We're moving on from that. They're there to truly just decide should he spend his life in prison without parole or should he receive the death penalty,” said WLRN’s Broward reporter Caitie Switalski Muñoz.

Find more of her reporting here and a link to mental health resources in South Florida here.

Parkland Shooter Trial
Gena Hoyer, right, hugs Debbie Hixon during a court recess following Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz’s guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings. Hoyer’s son, Luke Hoyer, 15, and Hixon’s husband, Christopher Hixon, 49, were both killed in the massacre. This at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Sen. Taddeo’s bid for governor

There is still more than a year before Floridians go to the ballots to pick their next governor.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced his run for re-election. There are still questions as to whether he’ll run for president in 2024.

On the Democratic side, already campaigning for the job are former governor and current Congressman Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

And now enters state Senator Annette Taddeo.

“We have to register voters and continue to register voters and register more voters, and that is something that we [Democrats] have gotten behind on,” said Taddeo. “We can energize voters across the state and grow support among our among the pivotal NPA [non-party affiliated] voters who are so disgusted with the divisive politics of today.”

She added that COVID-19 and expanding Medicaid are top priorities for her.

Sen. Taddeo’s bid for governor

Misinformation during AIDS and COVID

The AIDS epidemic was one of the defining moments of the 1980s.

Myths and falsehoods about the new disease spread like wildfire in newspapers, on television, and in public spaces.

Five years ago, medical experts examined more than 500 books about HIV and AIDS at the Stonewall National Museum & Archives in Fort Lauderdale. They found more than 75 books contained inaccurate information.

So, they were taken off of public shelves. But the museum kept those books as a special collection.

“We kept them because they were an important part of gay culture. This is an important piece of what the gay community went through in the 1980s and '90s,” said Hunter O’Hanian, the executive director at the museum.

That special collection is now part of a new exhibit titled “Mis-Information” that looks at parallels of the information spread at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and how it compares with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For me, it was very early on in the COVID crisis when we saw government leaders point fingers at other ethnic groups. The Chinese were being blamed in the beginning and then there was a parallel that you felt about going back to the days that only Haitians or drug users or gay people could get AIDA,” said O’Hanian, who curated the exhibit.

The exhibit is open to the public and will be open until the end of July 2022. Find more information here.

Misinformation during AIDS and COVID

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.