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Judge enters not guilty plea for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz | Miami Herald


Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was formally charged Wednesday after a Broward grand jury last week indicted him on 17 counts of first-degree murder. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Source: www.miamiherald.com

 Nikolas Cruz is escorted into the courtroom for his arraignment at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

 

Judge enters not guilty plea for Parkland shooter, who remains mum in court

Surrounded by at least 20 deputies and shackled at his wrists and ankles, Nikolas Cruz appeared in a Broward County courtroom on Wednesday to be formally charged in a school massacre he has already confessed to carrying out.

He didn’t enter a plea but the judge, for procedural reasons, did it for him: Not guilty.

The arraignment of Cruz comes exactly one month after he walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and opened fire with an AR-15 rifle on students and staff at the Parkland school he once attended. A Broward grand jury last week indicted him on 17 first-degree murder and 17 first-degree attempted murder charges.

Unlike most defendants in criminal cases, Cruz, 19, did not enter a plea himself and, in fact, did not speak during the brief hearing, keeping his head down throughout.

Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill told Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer that Cruz “stands mute” to the charges. Hoping to convince a jury to spare his life, his legal team is planning to focus their defense on Cruz’s long history of mental illness, emotional and violent outbursts and the recent death of his mother. Broward Public Defender Howard Finklestein has repeatedly said his goal is to keep Cruz off of Florida’s Death Row.

Scherer ordered the not guilty plea entered for Cruz. The judge also asked for more information on Cruz’s finances to determine whether he can afford his own private attorney, rather than be represented by the taxpayer-funded Public Defender’s Office. She set a hearing on his financial status for April 11. A murder trial, on the current schedule, could start as early as the first week of May.

Cruz’s horrifying act of violence sparked a wave of student activism, renewed political tension over gun control and even forced the normally pro-firearm friendly Florida Legislature to pass a law tightening access to the weapons.

Armed with plenty of eye witnesses who knew the shooter, video surveillance and a confession, prosecutors have plenty of evidence to convict Cruz of the shooting.

How the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. Can Help

If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed criminal defense attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to defend your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.

Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.

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