The troubled half-sister of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz testified Monday that their prostitute mother smoked crack and drank heavily while pregnant with him — leading him to develop inside a “polluted womb.”
Danielle Woodard, 35, who is currently awaiting trial on carjacking charges, told jurors that their mom “put drugs above everything else,” summing up her parenting as “horrible.”
“She introduced me to a life that no child should ever be introduced to,” she said of mom Brenda Woodard, who died last year.
Defense attorneys called Cruz’s sister to the stand to highlight their argument that his turbulent childhood warrants a lesser sentence.
The lawyers want jurors to reject the death penalty and instead give Cruz a term of life in prison for killing 14 students and three staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
His mom’s use of alcohol and crack while pregnant, Cruz’s lawyers argue, likely damaged the development of his brain function.
The killer’s half-sister, who was 11 when he was born, told jurors that she asked their mom if they could keep Cruz after holding him as a newborn in 1998.
But her drug-addled mom had already arranged to have him adopted by a Parkland couple. Cruz’s lawyers said earlier Monday that his unknown father was either a rapist or a John.
Danielle Woodard, who remains behind bars, had not been in the same room as her infamous half-sibling since his birth and briefly flashed him a few tender looks at the start of her testimony.
Woodard told jurors that she has been convicted of 16 felonies and served several jail terms. She blamed much of her dysfunction on her mother’s neglect.
But prosecutors noted Monday that Cruz’s was adopted into a prosperous and largely functional home.
Lynda and Roger Cruz, they said, took him into their sprawling house and provided him with summer camps, therapy sessions and other hallmarks of a healthy upbringing.
Despite these efforts, Cruz showed aggressive tendencies and abnormal fantasies from a young age, prosecutors said.
These included adopting the personalities of wild animals — including lions and tigers.
Cruz’s adoptive father died from a heart attack when he was five, while Lynda Cruz passed just months before the massacre.
Cruz, 23, has already pleaded guilty to one of the worst mass shootings in the nation’s history and now awaits his sentence.
Prosecutors contend that the enormity of Cruz’s crime calls for the death penalty.