Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Parkland School Shooting: Nikolas Cruz to Face Death Penalty If Convicted

Parkland School Shooting: Nikolas Cruz to Face Death Penalty If Convicted

He faces 34 charges, including 17 counts of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors in Florida said Tuesday they will seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people last month in a shooting rampage at his former high school.

Nikolas Cruz, who was arrested after that massacre on Valentine's Day in Parkland, Florida, was indicted last week by a grand jury in Broward County on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree, and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.

The announcement came almost a week after Cruz was indicted by a grand jury on 34 counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder for the February 14 massacre, which killed 17 people and injured the same number.

The filing follows after Mr Cruz's attorneys signalled that their client was willing to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. In an email on Tuesday, Finkelstein said Cruz is "immediately ready" to plead guilty in return for 34 consecutive life sentences.

In its filing, the prosecution said that, among the aggravating factors spurring its decision, were that Cruz knowingly created a risk of death for many people, his crime was aimed at hindering "any government function or the enforcement of laws" and that the shooting was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel". The action by prosecutors does not necessarily mean a plea deal will not be reached.

His previous not guilty plea indicated that Cruz denied his alleged role in the shooting, even though the evidence against him is overwhelming and Cruz himself has confessed to authorities, they say.

"If not allowed to do that tomorrow (at the hearing), out of respect for the victims' families we will stand mute to the charges at the arraignment".

Broward Health spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said Tuesday that Anthony Borges' condition has now been upgraded to fair.

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