Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused Parkland shooter, is set to inherit $800k from his deceased parents’ estates, and he could be forced to use these funds to pay a private lawyer rather than continue to use a public defender who is paid for taxpayer funds. At this time, accused Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is being assisted by a team from the Broward County Public Defender’s Office, but Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer could force him to use his sizeable inheritance, currently held in trust, to pay a private lawyer for his defense. Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.
Nikolas Cruz Is Set To Receive An $800k Trust On His 22nd Birthday
After his arrest, Nikolas Cruz filled out paperwork that indicated that he was “too poor” to afford a private attorney, but last week, his public defender asked the judge if Nikolas Cruz should be compelled to use his $800k trust to pay for a private lawyer rather than get one for free via the Broward County Public Defender’s Office, says Business Insider.
Nikolas Cruz told the family he was living with that he was barred from touching his $800k trust until he turns 22 (he is 19 at this time). But Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer could order Nikolas Cruz to use these funds to secure a private lawyer in what is to become an expensive case for the taxpayers, especially if the prosecution seeks the death penalty in the Parkland shootings.
Nikolas Cruz Indicated In Court Documents That He Was ‘Too Poor’ To Afford A Private Lawyer
The couple that Nikolas Cruz was living with at the time of the shooting, James and Kimberly Snead, say they have seen the paperwork that promises Cruz $800k and assumed at the time of his 22nd birthday that he would be financially comfortable.
Jim Lewis, a lawyer for the Sneads said Nikolas Cruz, was never without money.
“The kid was not hurting for money at any point. Everyone knows about it. The question is if it’s available now.”
If Nikolas Cruz can access the $800k trust or borrow against it, the Broward County Public Defender’s Office would be off the hook, and the taxpayers of Broward County wouldn’t have to pay perhaps the largest legal bill in the history of the jurisdiction, says the Miami Herald. Another option under Florida law is for the public defender to charge Nikolas Cruz when he turns 22 and receives his trust for services rendered, according to retired Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Scott Silverman.
“The public is still protected if he comes into money at some later time. The Public Defenders would be reimbursed the cost of its services.”
A Judge Will Determine If Nikolas Cruz Can Continue To Use A Public Defender Free Of Charge
The $800k trust that is awaiting Nikolas Cruz is from the sale of his deceased mother’s house and medical malpractice suit proceeds from his father’s death. The house that Nikolas Cruz was living in with his mother at the time of her death sold for $575k in January of 2017.
It is possible that the determination will be made this week if Nikolas Cruz is truly indigent and can continue to use an attorney at no charge from the Broward County Public Defender’s Office.