Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty for Accused Florida School Shooter


A Florida prosecutor said Tuesday that he would seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 17 people last month at a high school in Parkland, moving the state closer to a rare trial for someone charged in a mass shooting.

The state attorney in Broward County, Florida filed a formal notice on Tuesday. Mr. Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for the attack on February 14, when authorities say the former student opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

The decision was not unexpected, and came one day before Cruz is scheduled to be arraigned on 17 counts of first-degree murder.

Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His attorneys have said he is willing to plead guilty if they take the death penalty off the table. His defense attorneys had tried to prevent a death-penalty trial by bargaining with prosecutors for a life sentence in exchange for Cruz's guilty plea.

Cruz now "stands mute" before the charges, having withdrawn a written "not guilty" plea after being indicted by the grand jury.

The shooting has sparked a fierce national debate over gun rights, with numerous student survivors vowing to push for gun control regulations so that the shooting they lived through might be the last. The commission, a special panel that meets every 20 years, has the power to ask voters to approve changes to the state's constitution. Anthony Borges, 15, was shot five times. After surgeries, his condition was upgraded to fair.

The commission will consider proposals that call for raising the age of weapon purchases to 21, banning bump stocks, a ban on types of semi-automatic rifles and extending the waiting period for gun purchases.

Borges has filed a notice of intent to sue the school district and the Broward Sheriff's Office for negligence and failing to prevent the shooting.

Standing mute means the defendant will not plea either "guilty" or "not guilty".