Including one of his lawyers, the former student who was accused of shooting and shooting 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 wants to plead guilty to 17 charges of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, according to the court documents.
On February 14, 2018, a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resulted in the deaths of 14 students and three staff members, making it one of the worst school shootings in American history. A total of seventeen additional individuals were injured.
According to the investigators, the former student, Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time and had a history of mental and behavioral issues, carried out the attack with a semiautomatic weapon that he had lawfully purchased.
David Wheeler, one of Mr. Cruz’s attorneys, said in court on Friday that his client’s intention was to submit a change of plea in both instances to all counts against him.
In a separate instance involving a confrontation with a sheriff’s officer while in prison, Mr. Cruz, now 23 years old, came in court soon thereafter and entered a guilty plea to assault and other counts, which were dismissed.
Cruz’s request to alter his plea in the Parkland shooting case will be heard by Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Wednesday at 9 a.m., according to the court’s announcement.
The next stage would be a penalty phase in front of a jury, during which Mr. Cruz’s attorneys would try to escape a death sentence by arguing for life in prison instead of execution. Prosecutors have pledged to seek the death sentence in this case and have said that there have been no plea bargaining discussions.
Mr. Cruz arrived in court on Friday dressed in a mask, big glasses, and a black sweater over a white collared shirt, according to court documents. He admitted to the judge that he was anxious, but that he was thinking well and that he understood what was happening in the courtroom. In response to the question from Judge Scherer about whether Mr. Cruz was suffering from any mental problems, he said that he had been informed in the past that he suffered from anxiety and despair, but that he was prepared to continue with the hearing on Friday.
In response, he said, “I don’t think I have any problems.” He said that he had not taken any medicine for the previous year.
Announcing the intention to enter guilty pleas comes after years of witness interviews and other preparations for an emotionally demanding trial that had been anticipated to take several months.
Mr. Cruz filmed three films on his smartphone before to the massacre, which showed that he, like many other young perpetrators of mass shootings, wanted his name to be remembered.
During one video, he said that “when you see me on the news, you will all know who I am.” “You’re all going to die,” says the narrator.
Following the massacre, hundreds of kids, many of whom had grown up in a time of school shooting drills and lockdowns, walked out of their classes and marched in support of stricter gun control legislation and an end to gun violence in general. In other cases, teens who had survived the Parkland massacre were in charge of the marches, and they soon rose to prominence as leaders of a new generation of activists.
Activists with March for Our Lives, a group formed by several of the shooting’s survivors, expressed their “appalling and anger” at the fact that legislators did not do more to prevent gun violence in the aftermath of the tragedy.
As the organisation said in a statement, “a single guilty plea does not offer closure as long as it is still conceivable for another person anywhere in this nation to be killed by a gun at school, in a place of worship, or even in their own home.”
Mitchell and Annika Dworet, the parents of Nicholas Dworet, 17, who was murdered in the shooting, and Alex Dworet, whose head was grazed by a bullet, sat in the audience at the rear of the courtroom on Friday.