Parkland, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old appeared before the Broward County District Court in Fort Lauderdale.
Wednesday’s arraignment was Cruz’s second court appearance after the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed–and an additional 17 people were injured.
On March 7, a Broward County grand jury indicted Cruz on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree. That same grand jury also returned an indictment charging Cruz with 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
On March 13, Broward County State Attorney Michael J. Satz told reporters that his office planned on seeking the death penalty for Cruz. Howard Finkelstein, the public defender whose office is defending Cruz, has previously said his client would be willing to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty.
Neither Satz nor his office directly addressed the offer by Cruz’s attorney, but Satz has signaled that his office will likely seek the death penalty no matter what.
In a court filing, Satz cited seven aggravating factors which he believes will make Cruz eligible for the death penalty under Florida law–and noted that the Valentine’s Day Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for.”
Finkelstein told reporters that Cruz plans to stand mute, but will not contest his guilt. Finkelstein said, “We are not saying he is not guilty, but we can’t plead guilty while death is still on the table.”
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[image via WPLG screengrab]