BROWARD COUNTY, FL — State’s attorney Michael J. Satz has announced that Florida will seek the death penalty against Nikolas Cruz, 19 — the suspect accused of killing 17 people last month in a mass high school shooting.
On February 14, Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where he had been a student. Once inside, Cruz allegedly pulled a fire alarm and then shot at exiting students and staff members to horrific and fatal results.
Cruz has been indicted on 34 counts: 17 of premeditated murder in the first degree, and 17 of attempted murder in the first degree.
Satz said that Cruz qualified for capital punishment as the state could prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the suspect “knowingly created a great risk of death to many people” during a crime that was “especially heinous, atrocious, [and] cruel.”
Last Thursday, Cruz withdrew his initial plea of not guilty.
Howard Finkelstein, a public defender on Cruz’s legal team, has expressed a desire to cut a deal, saying that his client is “ready to immediately plead guilty.” Finkelstein added:
“We are not saying he is not guilty, but we can’t plead guilty while death is still on the table.”
While negotiations are now expected that may result in a plea bargain for life in prison, Cruz officially “stands mute” on the allegations.
Cruz is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow for an arraignment hearing — the same day that many students nationwide are expected to walk out of class in a demonstration against gun violence.
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Main photo: Nikolas Cruz [Broward County Sheriff’s Office]