Parkland Shooting Suspect Will Plead Guilty in Hopes of Skirting Death Penalty
HOPE AGAINST HOPE
Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly opened fire in a Parkland, Florida, high school on Valentine’s Day 2018, will plead guilty to all charges stemming from the mass shooting, including 17 counts of premeditated murder, 17 counts of attempted murder, and attacking a jail guard months after his arrest, his attorneys told a circuit court judge Friday. Cruz’s defense attorneys had said they hoped their client could avoid the death penalty by pleading guilty, but the prosecution previously denied such a bargain and kept capital punishment on the table. “We just hope the system gives him justice,” Tony Montalto, an activist whose daughter Gina died in the shooting, told the Associated Press.
A jury will now decide whether Cruz gets the death penalty in upcoming sentencing proceedings, a punishment prosecutors still plan to pursue. The 23-year-old has confessed to the killings in police interviews. The shooting spree left 17 dead and more than a dozen wounded.