Florida school shooter will offer to plead guilty, public defender says

Nikolas Cruz

PARKLAND, Fla. — Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Florida school shooting that killed 17, wants to plead guilty so that he can avoid the death penalty and spare a traumatized community a trial that would recount horrifying details of his mass shooting, a top public defender said Friday.

“This is an opportunity to put the criminal case behind and help the victims’ families begin to try and pick up pieces of their lives for our community to heal and to figure out how we stop these things from ever happening again,” said Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

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Prosecutors, who would need to agree not to ask for capital punishment — by allowing life without parole, instead — could not immediately be reached for comment.

Finkelstein, whose office is representing the confessed killer, said there is no question Cruz is guilty of killing 14 students and three staff members in Parkland on Wednesday.

“The only question is, does he live or does he die?” Finkelstein said.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The next court date is set for Monday morning, during which a judge will hear a defense motion unrelated to the possible plea.

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