Crime

Should the Parkland shooter face the death penalty? The judge has delayed a decision

Mourners bring flowers as they pay tribute at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 as parents and students returned to the school for the first time since the shooting.
Mourners bring flowers as they pay tribute at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 as parents and students returned to the school for the first time since the shooting. TNS

A Broward county judge decided to hold off on a request to take the death penalty off the table for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz during a hearing Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors have been seeking the death penalty for Cruz, who confessed to shooting “each and every one” of the 17 victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018.

During the hearing Friday, Tamara Curtis, assistant public defender, argued that the state failed to list the victims’ names in the original March 2018 filing and then changed the document without following proper procedure. The defense has said Cruz would plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence.

Broward Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer decided to hold off on a decision whether to review the issue.

That was one of several topics addressed during the hearing Friday afternoon. Other topics included a request by the defense that the state hand over Florida Department of Law Enforcement recordings and another that the judge not require that Cruz needs to be present at some hearings. Cruz, wearing his orange jumpsuit, sat in the courtroom flanked by his defense team and didn’t say a word.

Scherer granted the defense’s request to have the state hand over two hard drives that supposedly have information from an FDLE investigation relating to the case. It’s not clear what type of information is on the hard drives.

Scherer also ruled that Cruz will be required to attend all substantial hearings.

“I’m not going to entertain any more arguments on this issue for now,” Scherer said.

Friday’s hearing comes after Scherer last month scheduled Cruz’s death penalty trial to begin in January 2020, amid longstanding protests from the Broward Public Defender’s Office that it wouldn’t have enough time to prepare and that prosecutors were trying to rush the case.

The trial would start less than two years after Cruz, now 21, was arrested for the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting that left 17 students and staff members dead and more than a dozen injured.

Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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