A final hearing is scheduled for Friday for Nicholas Cruz in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – the man who confessed to killing 17 people at a suburban high school in 2018.
The hearing in Broward County Circuit Court was abruptly scheduled for Thursday and its purpose was not stated. But WSVNTV, without naming sources, said Cruz would plead guilty to all 17 murder charges against him. Cruz’s lawyers did not respond to calls, texts or emails from the Associated Press.
Cruz will also plead guilty to 17 counts of attempted murder at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, according to the report. Court records show the hearing is before Circuit Judge Elizabeth Shearer. No trial date was set.
Cruz will still face a jury to determine whether he will be sentenced to death or life imprisonment, the report said. Prosecutors have always insisted that Cruz deserves to be killed.
The Broward County State Attorney’s Office issued a statement Thursday night stating that Cruz’s lawyers will have to comment on any possible criminal charges.
“We have to refer all your questions to the defense,” the public prosecutor’s statement said. “No petitions have been negotiated with the prosecution. If he pleads guilty, there will still be a sentence.”
Preparations are under way for the largest murder case in Broward County history and one of the most notorious crimes in Florida to date.
Cruz, 23, was arrested on Valentine’s Day 2018 about an hour after being attacked with an AR15 semi-automatic rifle.
His lawyers have repeatedly offered to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for bail, but the prosecution has refused to abandon the death penalty. A guilty plea would avoid a painful, lengthy trial and still allow the jury to decide Cruz’s fate.
Much of the sentencing phase will likely focus on Cruz’s mental state at the time of the murder, with prosecutors already emphasizing his horrific nature and Cruz’s deep plans.
Tony Montalto, president of Standwood Parkland Group, which represents the victims’ families, said Thursday night that neither he nor any of the parents he spoke to had been informed that Cruz had pleaded guilty. Will, but they are not surprised. Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter was shot dead.
“There is little doubt that he killed my beautiful daughter, Gina, or 16 other victims. There is little doubt that he shot 17 other people and terrorized all the other students at the school.” “We just hope the system does it justice,” Montalto said.
When asked if he believed Cruz deserved the death penalty, Montalto said, “As a society, we need to stop attacking our schools as much as possible. Do. ”