Nikolas Cruz pleaded responsible to homicide on Wednesday within the 2018 highschool bloodbath in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 useless.
Cruz, 23, entered his pleas in a courtroom attended by a dozen family members of victims after answering an extended record of questions from Circuit Decide Elizabeth Scherer aimed toward confirming his psychological competency. He was charged with 17 counts of homicide and 17 counts of tried first-degree homicide for these wounded within the Feb. 14, 2018, assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, positioned simply exterior Fort Lauderdale.
A penalty trial will decide if Cruz will obtain a sentence of loss of life or life in jail with out parole. Scherer plans to start screening jurors subsequent month in hopes testimony can start in January.
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime died within the taking pictures, stated he visited her grave this week to ask her for the energy to get by Wednesday’s listening to.
“She was the hardest, wisest particular person I ever knew,” he stated. “My daughter all the time fought for what was proper. My daughter despised bullies and would put herself in the course of somebody being bullied to make it cease.”
The responsible pleas will set the stage for a penalty trial through which 12 jurors will decide whether or not Cruz needs to be sentenced to loss of life or life in jail with out parole. Given the case’s notoriety, Scherer plans to display hundreds of potential jurors. Hearings are scheduled all through November and December, with a purpose to start out testimony in January.
Cruz killed the 14 students and three staff members on Valentine’s Day 2018 throughout a seven-minute rampage by a three-story constructing at Stoneman Douglas, investigators stated. They stated he shot victims within the hallways and in lecture rooms with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Cruz had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas a 12 months earlier after a historical past of threatening, scary, uncommon and typically violent habits that dated again to preschool.
The shootings brought on some Stoneman Douglas college students to launch the March for Our Lives motion, which pushes for stronger gun restrictions nationally.
Since days after the taking pictures, Cruz’s attorneys had provided to have him plead responsible in trade for a life sentence, saying that will spare the group the emotional turmoil of reliving the assault at trial. However longtime Broward State Legal professional Mike Satz rejected the supply, saying Cruz deserved a loss of life sentence, and appointed himself lead prosecutor. Satz, 79, stepped down as state legal professional in January after 44 years, however stays Cruz’s chief prosecutor.
His successor, Harold Pryor, is against the loss of life penalty however has stated he’ll observe the regulation. Like Satz, he by no means accepted the protection supply — as an elected official, that will have been tough, even in liberal Broward County, the place Democrats outnumber Republicans by greater than 2 to 1.
By having Cruz plead responsible, his attorneys will be capable of argue through the penalty listening to that he took accountability for his actions.
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