FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. —
A final-minute court docket listening to is about Friday in Florida for Nikolas Cruz, the person police mentioned has confessed to the 2018 bloodbath of 17 individuals at a suburban highschool.
The listening to in Broward County Circuit Courtroom was scheduled abruptly Thursday and doesn’t describe the aim. However WSVN-TV reported with out citing sources by identify that Cruz would plead responsible to all 17 homicide counts towards him. Cruz’s attorneys didn’t reply to calls, texts and emails from The Related Press.
Cruz additionally would plead responsible to 17 counts of tried homicide at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive in Parkland, in line with the report. The listening to is earlier than Circuit Choose Elizabeth Scherer, court docket information present. No trial date had been set.
Cruz would nonetheless face a jury to find out whether or not he will get the dying penalty or life in jail, the report mentioned. Prosecutors have at all times insisted that Cruz deserves dying for the slayings.
The Solar Sentinel, additionally with out citing sources by identify, reported attorneys could be current for a standing listening to earlier than the choose on Friday, however Cruz wouldn’t be current and pleas could be entered at a later date.
The Broward County state lawyer’s workplace issued a press release Thursday night time saying Cruz’s attorneys must touch upon any doable responsible plea.
“We now have to refer your whole inquiries to the protection,” the state lawyer’s assertion mentioned. “There have been no plea negotiations with the prosecution. If he pleads responsible, there would nonetheless be a penalty section.”
Preparations have been ongoing for what could be the largest homicide trial in Broward County historical past, and one of the notorious crimes ever in Florida.
Cruz, 23, was arrested about an hour after the assault with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on Valentine’s Day 2018.
His attorneys have repeatedly supplied to plead responsible in return for a assured sentence of life in jail, however prosecutors have refused to drop their pursuit of the dying penalty. A responsible plea would each keep away from a traumatic, prolonged trial and nonetheless enable a jury to resolve Cruz’s destiny.
A lot of the penalty section would doubtless concentrate on Cruz’s psychological situation on the time of the slayings, with prosecutors emphasizing their horrific nature and Cruz’s intensive planning beforehand.
Tony Montalto, president of the Stand With Parkland group that represents the households of the victims, mentioned Thursday night time that neither he nor any guardian he has spoken to has been knowledgeable that Cruz would plead responsible, however he isn’t stunned. Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter died within the capturing.
“There may be little or no doubt he murdered my lovely daughter, Gina, or the 16 different victims. There may be little or no doubt he shot the opposite 17 individuals and terrorized all the opposite college students on the college. We simply hope the system offers him justice,” Montalto mentioned.
When requested if he believes Cruz deserves the dying penalty, Montalto mentioned, “As a society, we have to disincentivize to the utmost extent doable anybody from attacking our colleges, no matter kind that takes.”
Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida