Sometimes attorneys split with their clients because of a legal disagreement. Perhaps the defendant wants literally to put things in God’s hands. In this case, however, it’s because he fell into a lot of money. Public defenders for Nikolas Cruz, the man charged for committing a mass shooting at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in 2018, just asked a Broward County court to withdraw from the case because their client just received the funds from a life insurance payout.
“It has come to the attention of undersigned counsel that Nikolas Cruz is a beneficiary in a MetLife life insurance policy and is entitled to half of a death benefit valued at $864,929.17 as of April 23, 2019,” lawyers wrote in a filing obtained by Law&Crime.
The public defenders said they were previously unaware of this entitlement, and they point out that the law prohibits them from representing non-indigent defendants.
Last year, Cruz said through an attorney that he didn’t want money from his late mother’s life insurance policy, or anywhere else.
“He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ families believe could facilitate healing in our community,” defense lawyer Melisa McNeill said, according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder, and 17 counts of attempted murder for the February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida. Up to now, his defense didn’t dispute that he did it, but they want the death penalty off the table.
The victims were identified as follows: 14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff, 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel, 14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano, 17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet, 37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, 49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon, 15-year-old student Luke Hoyer, 14-year-old student Cara Loughran, 14-year-old student Gina Montalto, 17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver, 14-year-old student Alaina Petty, 18-year-old student Meadow Pollack, 17-year-old student Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old student Alexander Schachter, 16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup, and 15-year-old student Peter Wang.
[Image via Taimy Alvarez-Pool/Getty Images]