Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz made an appearance in court today and waived his right to a speedy trial. Cruz was quiet and kept his head down while he sat at the defense table. The presiding judge, Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer scheduled the next Nikolas Cruz hearing for the afternoon of May 25.
Nikolas Cruz Has Waived His Right To A Speedy Trial
KITV says that Nikolas Cruz is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in his attack on students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
Cruz defense attorney Howard Finkelstein said he would prefer his client, Nikolas Cruz to take a plea deal, and is suggesting that his client serve 34 consecutive life sentences, one for each of the counts on which Cruz has been indicted.
But Assistant State’s Attorney Shari Tate said that Nikolas Cruz is not going to get to decide what sentence he serves for his crimes.
“The state of Florida is not allowing Mr. Cruz to choose his own punishment.”
Judge Elizabeth Scherer has entered a not guilty plea to the charges after a defense attorney for Nikolas Cruz told the judge that Cruz was “standing mute” to the charges, meaning that he has not verbalized and plea and refuses to do so.
Broward County Prosecutors Plan To Seek The Death Penalty
A defense attorney for Nikolas Cruz says that there is no doubt that Cruz did what he is being accused of, and that he will take a guilty plea in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. The local CBS affiliate says that the rule generally requires a defendant to be taken to trial within 175 days of being charged with a felony unless it is waived, and Nikolas Cruz waived that right through one of his defense attorneys.
Nikolas Cruz was led into court handcuffed and shackled complete with belly chains. The Broward County prosecutor is planning to seek the death penalty despite the offer from the Cruz team that Nikolas Cruz would take a guilty plea in exchange for taking the death penalty off of the table.
The next hearing for Nikolas Cruz will be held to determine how to proceed with the case, including which of the Parkland shooting victims to depose first.
There is still controversy regarding whether or not Nikolas Cruz should be able to use public defenders as his legal team. Cruz is due to inherit $800,000 in a few years from his mother’s estate, and so many people believe that the taxpayers shouldn’t pay for a legal defense for Cruz.
Nikolas Cruz Is Due To Inherit $800,000 From His Mother’s Estate
James and Kimberly Snead, the couple that Cruz lived with at the time of the shooting say that Nikolas Cruz always had money.
“The kid was not hurting for money at any point. Everyone knows about it. The question is if it’s available now.”
Retired Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Scott Silverman says that even if Nikolas Cruz is allowed to use the services of a public defender, the public could still recoup the funds after Cruz is eligible for his $800,000.
“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.”