Campus shooter Nikolas Cruz appears in court. He has been charged in a high school massacre last month, on 34 counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder.
The charges came three weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three faculty members dead, and the indictment pushes forward a case that is one of the state’s highest-profile prosecutions in recent memory. Cruz, whose attorneys have admitted his guilt, could face the death penalty.
Black Wednesday! 17 dead after school shooting at Florida high school, up to 50 injured; ex-student, Nicolas Cruz, taken into custody
The grand jury charged Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree, according to the office of Michael J. Satz, the state attorney for Broward County. Cruz also was charged with 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree, with these counts listing people who were wounded at Stoneman Douglas.
Police said Cruz confessed to the killings after he was arrested, and the 19-year-old has been seen publicly only once since the shooting, appearing briefly in court days later.
The records show that he has been largely isolated and, at one point less than a week after the shooting, was seen laughing, according to logs and other reports the Broward County Sheriff’s Office released Wednesday.
Cruz reportedly, is “not allowed to interact with other inmates for his safety,” and they show that most of his interactions take place with his attorneys or the jail staff members monitoring him.
Cruz has been flagged as a white supremacist. Magazines had Nazi swastika symbols etched into them.
Visitor logs covering his incarceration from the day of the massacre show visits from attorneys, people with the public defender’s office and some who appear to be psychiatrists.
His brother, Zachary, is described as visiting twice, as is a woman with whom the brothers stayed in November after their mother died.
On Feb. 20, six days after the massacre, a deputy sheriff wrote that Cruz “appeared to break out in laughter,” although what prompted that is unclear.
The jail records show that Cruz’s responsiveness varied depending on the day and the situation. He was “very engaged … talkative, aware” during an interview with his attorney and a doctor, according to one report filed four days after the shooting. The following day, he did not respond when a deputy sheriff asked how he was. Later in the week, Cruz refused to leave his cell during recreation time.
Cruz lived with the Sneads [photo] from Thanksgiving until the day of the mass shooting. Cruz texted the Sneads’ 17-year-old sun while he was en route to the school but did not reveal where he was or what his intentions were.
Cruz is described in observation reports as “cooperative” and his thinking “logical and coherent.”
His movements range from “calm and slow” when he was speaking to a doctor and nurse to “very engaged” and “responsive” when he was speaking with an attorney and doctor during one visit with them together.
The suspect has a history of emotional and behavioral disorders.
Finkelstein said Wednesday he had no comment on the indictment other than that his office is ready to plead guilty “immediately” in exchange for life sentences without parole, repeating an offer he made in interviews with media outlets not long after the shooting. Finkelstein said two days after the massacre that the only uncertainty in the case has been what punishment Cruz will face.
“Did he do it or not?” Finkelstein said. “He did it. It’s one of the most horrific crimes in the history of America. There’s only one question: Does he live or does he die?”
However, the prosecutor modulated expectations of capital punishment when he observed that because of all the missed warning signs littering Cruz’s life, including repeated warnings to the FBI and local police that he could be capable of violence at a school, it would not be right for him to be executed.
Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is seen on Feb. 15 at the Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office has not said if it will pursue the death penalty.
Cruz’s defense team has said he is willing to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence in state prison. If prosecutors reject that offer, the case would go to trial.
Prosecutors do not have to immediately announce whether they will seek the death penalty. The decision-making process would include consulting with all of the victims’ families.
The prosecutor in charge of the case against Cruz, has said he will not announce until later in the process whether his office will seek a death sentence, though he released a statement calling the rampage “the type of case the death penalty was designed for.” Satz has not made a decision about the death penalty as of Wednesday, and his office has several weeks before it has to announce whether they will seek that punishment, a spokeswoman said.
Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Parkland school shooter, in maroon. is taken into custody an hour later on Wednesday Feb 14
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