By Terry Spencer, AP
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Parkland, Florida, high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said Friday, bringing some closure to a South Florida community more than three years after an attack that sparked a nationwide movement for gun control.
The guilty plea would set up a penalty phase where Nikolas Cruz, 23, would be fighting against the death penalty and hoping for life without parole.
Cruz attorney David Wheeler told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that he will plead guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first-degree murder in the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The pleas will come with no conditions and prosecutors still plan to seek the death penalty. That will be decided by a jury, with the judge hoping to start the trial in January after choosing a jury from thousands of prospects starting in November.
Cruz will also plead guilty to 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was not initially present during the hearing, but later entered the Broward County courtroom to plead guilty to attacking a jail guard nine months after the shooting. He answered the judge’s question about his competency in a steady voice as sheriff’s deputies watched over him and spectators.
Cruz said he understood that prosecutors can use the conviction as an aggravating factor when they later argue for his execution.
The trial has been delayed by the pandemic and arguments over what evidence could be presented to the jury, frustrating some victims’ families.
Mitch and Annika Dworet, the only victims’ parents to attend the hearing, said they are relieved the case is finally moving toward closure. Their 17-year-old son Nick died in the shooting while his younger brother Alex was wounded.
Mitch Dworet said he tries hard not to think about the case, saying he wants to focus on their sons. But his wife interjected, “We want justice — it’s time.” For them, that means Cruz’s execution.
“We would like to see him suffer,” she said.
Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed, said in a phone interview he also wants Cruz executed. “Death by lethal injection seems too peaceful to me. I’d rather see [him] hanging in a public square.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Parkland student activists formed March for Our Lives, a group that rallied hundreds of thousands around the country for tighter gun laws, including a nationally televised march in Washington, D.C.
The decision by Cruz to plead guilty came unexpectedly. He had been set to go on trial next week for the attack on the Broward County jail guard.
Cruz and his lawyers had long offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors had rejected that deal, saying the case deserved a death sentence. Both sides declined comment Friday.
Attorney David Weinstein, a former Florida prosecutor who is not involved in the case, said by pleading guilty to the murder charges, Cruz’s lawyers will be able to tell the jury in the penalty hearing “that he has accepted responsibility, has shown remorse and saved the victim’s families the additional trauma of a guilt phase trial.”
The jurors also won’t repeatedly see the security videos that reportedly captured the shooting in graphic detail. Their goal will be to persuade one juror to vote for a life sentence — unanimity will be required to sentence Cruz to death.
Cruz’s rampage crushed the veneer of safety in Parkland, an upper-middle-class community outside Fort Lauderdale with little crime.
Cruz was a longtime, but troubled resident. Broward sheriff’s deputies were frequently called to the home in an upscale neighborhood he shared with his widowed mother and younger brother for disturbances, but they said nothing was ever reported that could have led to his arrest. A state commission that investigated the shooting agreed.
Cruz alternated between traditional schools and those for troubled students.
He attended Stoneman Douglas starting in 10th grade, but his troubles remained — at one point, he was prohibited from carrying a backpack to make sure he didn’t carry a weapon. Still, he was allowed to participate on the school’s rifle team.
He was expelled about a year before the attack after numerous incidents of unusual behavior and at least one fight. He began posting videos online in which he threatened to commit violence, including at the school. It was about this time he purchased the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle he would use in the shooting.
When Cruz’s mother died of pneumonia in 2017, four months before the shooting, he began staying with friends, taking his 10 guns with him.
Someone, worried about his emotional state, called the FBI a month before the shooting to warn agents he might kill people. The information was never forwarded to the agency’s South Florida office.
Another acquaintance called the Broward Sheriff’s Office with a similar warning, but when the deputy learned Cruz was then living with a family friend in neighboring Palm Beach County he told the caller to contact that sheriff’s office.
In the weeks before the shooting, Cruz began making videos proclaiming he was going to be the “next school shooter of 2018.”
The shooting happened on Valentine’s Day. Students had exchanged gifts and many were dressed in red.
Cruz, then 19, arrived at the campus that afternoon in an Uber, assembled his rifle in a stairwell and then opened fire in the three-story classroom building.
Cruz eventually dropped his rifle and fled, blending in with his victims as police stormed the building. He was captured about an hour later walking through a residential neighborhood.
The shooting led to a state law that requires all Florida public schools to have an armed guard on campus during class hours.
Fry little boy fry. And no real penalty for the confederacy of dunces who aided & abetted this whacked out monster…
You read my mind, man.
I think its leathal injection now.
If anyone deserved to stand at the gallows and be publicly hanged it is this little twerp. It may incidentally send a little message to those contemplating emulating his despicable act.
I agree with you, but what about the man and orgs that caused this to happen? Obama’s Anti-Discipline Directive, the school, FBI, DOE, and the police dept were forced into following Obama’s Directives. When I first read his directive I couldn’t believe he got away with this and No One said anything about it. Obama and Our? govermnet murdered those kids!
From what I’ve read they soon times have problem with the injections . Go back to the old tried and true. The chair or a rope.
Execute him with his own rifle. fitting justice.
He’s had the fair trial. Now time for a fair hanging.
How about an axe?
“How about an axe?”
As long as one of the victim’s family gets to swing it.
Oh, and make it a dull axe. Make it so dull, it takes 8 or 9 swings to fully sever that fvck’s head…
Set the chair to slow roast instead of flash fry.
Exactly. Ol’ Sparky needs a work out, it’s been a long time coming. Also, forget to soak the sponge.
When’s the execution?
To quote a judge here in Missouri
“son, you waste good air with every breath you take”
If it makes things easier for the parents of the victims, I’m all for avoiding a trial.
I only wish that the people who dropped the ball on the perp (I refuse to say his name) for 7+ years were held to account, as well. There are people from the school board down to the school resource officer who should be facing justice as well, IMHO.
The perfect antifa/SS soldier. Hopefully he never sees free air again.
Hope he quits wasting our air.
Now will Rick Scott take responsibility for his role in disarming the people of Florida and resign, so DeSantis replace him with Matt Caldwell (who was screwed out of the Agriculture Comissioner position by Rick Scott due to Skellator’s willingness to avoid voter fraud if it didn’t hurt him personally)?
Obviously he wants to die and he should in a manner that fits the crime. Lethal Injection does not cut it or will it send a message to a copycat.
Lead injection to the face, no hood, so he sees it coming .
DON’T WASTE TIME , FOOD , JAIL SPACE , ON HIM.
DEATH PENALTY . JUST DO IT !
DO IT !
“He was expelled about a year before the attack after numerous incidents of unusual behavior and at least one fight. He began posting videos online in which he threatened to commit violence, including at the school. It was about this time he purchased the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle he would use in the shooting.”
If that is not a cry for help, I don’t know what is. I see the bullied kid that stands up to the jock bullies and won’t back down. The school should have put him somewhere else.
This does NOT excuse the murders, but definitely sets the stage. They knew they had a problem student and someone on the school board needs to lose his/her job because of it.
yes..there are others who are complicit in this…including one gutless security officer…if this goes to trial you can expect to hear a good deal more about all of this…..
Peacefully drifting off is too good for him. He needs to suffer. He needs to SLOWLY feel his whats left of his mind coming apart at the seams, day after crushing day. He should get locked in a cold dark cell and never see another human or hear another voice for the remainder of his natural life. The closest thing to human contact will be his tray door opening three times a day for the guard to push his food tray in.(without speaking a word) When he finally tries to bash his own skull in, they should let him do it. That is much more appropriate than lethal injection.
OVER THREE YEARS of waiting for a guilty plea. Why wasn’t this done in the first week?
Despite being incredibly guilty the man is making a mistake by pleading guilty.
I think so too.
Entomb him alive in a septic tank.
Historically known as an oublette.
Everyone is different, as for me I would rather be dead then spend the rest of my life locked in a prison.
You dont know what you’ve got till it’s gone, never opening a door for yourself, never getting up in the middle of the night to raid the frig, never taking a shower by yourself, never opening a window, choice of what to watch on TV without a fight or vote, and more.
You want him to suffer, dont give him the death penalty.
And if it is the death penalty he should swing from a rope for all to see, broadcast it, evening news, see how he struggles to keep the noose from slipping over his head. Perhaps some of the bad guys might give it a little thought the next time.
There’s something to that – Remove every last bit of control he has over his wasted life.
Keep him from suicideing, make him live every last second in misery…
Law enforcement including an incompetent sheriff repeatedly were warned by numerous people that Cruz was a nut case. If they had swooped in on him, arrested him, incarcerated him and confiscated his guns the tragedy probably would have been avoided.
A better National Mental Health Care system could also have made a difference. Since U.S. Health Care in general is rated as one of the worst and most expensive in the world it is not surprising he never got the help he needed as life is considered cheap and expendable in Capitalvania.
Also his arrest this probably would have made it into his background check system and he would have been banned from buying any more guns, a least new ones.
The home he was staying in knew he was deranged and never should have allowed him to bring guns into their home.
The only good to come out of the tragedy is that Florida raised the age to 21 to buy a deadly weapon and it was upheld by the courts (the courts almost always uphold anti-gun laws)
Main article: Florida Senate Bill 7026
In March 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. It raised the minimum age for buying rifles to 21, established waiting periods and background checks, provided a program for the arming of some school employees and hiring of school police, banned bump stocks, and barred some potentially violent or mentally unhealthy people arrested under certain laws from possessing guns. In all, it allocated around $400 million. Rick Scott signed the bill into law on March 9.
On the day the Parkland bill was signed into law, the NRA sued, challenging the ban on gun sales to people ages 18 to 21. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida upheld the constitutionality of the law and dismissed the NRA’s suit in June 2021.
Main article: Gun law in the United States
On February 20, 2018, Trump directed the Department of Justice to issue regulations to ban bump stocks.
On March 23, the STOP School Violence Act was signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which increases funding for metal detectors, security training, and similar safety measures. Lawmakers made it clear it was in response to the shooting and the public outcry. Some students from the Stoneman Douglas High School, who were active in calling for stricter gun control (not just safety measures), said the measure was passed because lawmakers “pass something very easy and simple that everyone can get behind. But that’s because it doesn’t do anything.
I wish we had a national mental health care plan. lil’d would be in an institute instead of play acting at being an SS storm trooper.
Do not engage. He’s nuts.
‘dO nOt eNgAgE, hE’s nUtS’, writes the geriatric who responds to dacian’s every post.
I make a PSA. Troll boy.
“…who responds to dacian’s every post.”
Have your testicles dropped yet, little boy?
(A *very* little boy, I bet… 😉 )
Big D, keep on swinging comrade!
Show these right wing Jethros how we Marxists roll!
Copy paste copy paste its all we do copy paste!
Do you dig chicks like I do? You know, little fluffy chicks chicks chicks!
Kill the bastard.
“The shooting led to a state law that requires all Florida public schools to have an armed guard on campus during class hours.”
Does it require the guards to go inside? They’ll have zero effect if they all stand outside during the shooting, as the cowardly former Deputy Scott Peterson proved in this case. “When seconds count, the police are standing at the door waiting for the shooter to run out of ammo.”
In not sure which one I dispise more the pos shooter or the pussy deputy
This is the problem with our justice system. It’s been 3 and a half years before this dickhead goes to trial.
He’s entitled to a speedy trial by a jury of his peers, and I’m sick of knowing this asshole is still breathing.
So you see, we all suffer as his constitutional rights are violated. Another reason the Constitution and the God-given rights enshrined within it are important to everyone.