Broward County

Lawyer calls $500,000 bond for the brother of the Parkland shooter ‘outrageous’

Brother of confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz is arrested for trespassing at Stoneman Douglas High School

Zachary Cruz, the half brother of confessed Douglas school shooter Nikolas Cruz, is shown in this body camera video being arrested Monday, March 19, 2018, by the Broward Sheriff's Office after trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
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Zachary Cruz, the half brother of confessed Douglas school shooter Nikolas Cruz, is shown in this body camera video being arrested Monday, March 19, 2018, by the Broward Sheriff's Office after trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Calling a $500,000 bond for trespassing “unreasonable” and “outrageous,” an attorney filed a motion Thursday to release Zachary Cruz, the brother of the confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Zachary Cruz, 18, was arrested Monday by the Broward Sheriff’s Office after detectives say he was skateboarding on the grounds of the Parkland high school, despite warnings to stay away. He was charged with trespassing, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

“Zachary Cruz should not be in a jail cell,” his attorney, Joseph Kimok, wrote in the 17-page motion filed in Broward Circuit Court. “In the light most favorable to the state, he skateboarded around the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after hours.”

The attorney argued that Zachary should not be punished for his brother’s crime.

“Zachary Cruz is not Nikolas Cruz,” his attorney wrote in the court filing. “Zachary is an eighteen-year-old kid who up until four months ago had led a relatively normal life. Overnight, the world’s attention turned on Zachary’s family and Zachary’s entire life was put under a microscope. Zachary Cruz did not bring any of this upon himself.”

On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked into the freshman building at Douglas — his former school — and shot and killed 17 students and educators with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Nikolas Cruz has been in jail since the day of the shooting. A prosecutor announced he will face the death penalty.

After the shooting, there has been heightened security on campus, as staff and law enforcement officers have kept a close watch on the school that houses 3,000 students.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Zachary Cruz “surpassed all locked doors and gates,” and was captured on surveillance cameras skateboarding. He told deputies he was there to “reflect on the shooting and to soak it in,” according to the report.

He was initially given the standard $25 bond, which he posted, Kimok said. But instead of letting him go, Kimok said he was held until the next day when he faced a judge.

Jail records indicated Thursday night that there were no inmates named Zachary Cruz in the Broward County jail system. It was unclear if he’d bonded out.

“On March 21, 2018, the Constitution failed him when a judge set this unreasonable bond amount and conditions,” he said. … “Mr Cruz’s half a million dollar bond represents 20,000 times above the standard amount.” 

Judge Kim Mollica, however, disregarded that the $25 bond had been posted and set a bond of $500,000, Kimok said.

Kimok said the move violated the U. S. Constitution.

He cited the Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

He also cited the founding fathers: “The Framers of our Constitution were all too aware of the hysteria that often results from a crime that shocks the community’s conscience.’’

“There was no evidence presented at the hearing that Mr. Zachary Cruz had threatened anyone during this arrest, that he resisted in anyway, or that he was uncooperative with police,” he wrote. “In fact there was no evidence presented that since his brother’s arrest, Mr. Zachary Cruz has threatened anyone, has ever exhibited or shown violence toward anyone, or that he has been seen by anyone with a weapon.”

“He has all the same flags present as his brother,” said Assistant Broward State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy at the hearing.

In addition to the bond, the judge also handed down several restrictions if Zachary Cruz were to be released: He’d have to wear an ankle monitor; his house can be searched; he may not possess firearms; and he can’t have contact with his brother. 

Kimok said Zachary should not be blamed for his brother’s actions.

“There is no justice where the government seeks to hang a man for the crimes of his brother,” he wrote. “It is immoral and reprehensible to attempt to punish Zachary Cruz for the sins of Nikolas.”

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