Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will reportedly plead guilty—if death penalty is off the table

"Nobody sees any benefit from a trial."
February 16, 2018, 9:00pm

Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will reportedly plead guilty immediately if state prosecutors agree not to seek the death penalty.

Cruz is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder for the Valentine’s Day massacre at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, that left at least 17 dead and 14 injured. Cruz, 19, will be tried as an adult, and will face life in prison or death.

“He committed this crime. Everybody saw it. Everybody knows it. He’s admitted it,” Public Defender Howard Finkelstein told the Miami Herald. “The crime is horrific and beyond words. This is going to come down to one issue — does he live, or does he die?”

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“We’re willing to plead guilty and let the families and communities begin to heal,” continued Finkelstein. “Nobody sees any benefit from a trial.”

Read more: All the times Nikolas Cruz was reported to authorities before the Florida shooting

Florida Attorney general Pam Bondi said Friday that prosecutors were likely to seek the death penalty against Cruz. “Anyone who, in general, is cold, calculated, premeditated, something that is so well thought out, something that is planned, something that is organized in advance, those all weigh very heavily,” Bondi said on Fox News.

Under Florida state law, a judge can only impose the death penalty if a sentencing jury unanimously agrees that its the appropriate punishment. Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. that has carried out executions in recent years, in spite of a nationwide shortage of drugs typically used in executions, such as pentobarbital and sodium thiopental.

Cover image: A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, with public defender Melisa McNeill, making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)