A Florida judge recorded a default plea of guilty on behalf of Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday after he refused to answer the 34 charges against him. The young man admitted to being the author of the shooting that killed 17 people exactly one month ago at a Parkland high school.
Cruz, 19, appeared Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale for his formal indictment. He is charged with 17 premeditated murders and 17 attempted murders.
His lawyers had said the day before that he would plead guilty if it was guaranteed that he would not be executed, but state attorneys in Florida favor the death penalty.
When Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked the accused what his plea was, he remained silent, with his head down. His lawyer Melissa McNeill, Legal Aid, said he refused to plead guilty or not guilty.
The magistrate therefore registered a plea of not guilty in his place to allow the procedures to follow their course. This is generally done in such circumstances.
The date of Nikolas Cruz’s trial, conditioned on the fact that he is said to be sane enough to be judged, has not yet been fixed. It should be on April 27th.
On the same day as this indictment, tens of thousands of American students dropped out of classes, as part of the National School Walkout, to demand better gun control.
He acknowledged the facts
He was arrested shortly after the assault rifle attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which he was expelled last year for “disciplinary reasons,” police said.
The killer had set off a fire alarm to attract students and staff to the corridors, likely to make as many casualties as possible.
Police reported that Cruz had an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon and several magazines when he was arrested, after fleeing the scene and mingling with other students at the school. He did not try to deny the facts.
The weapon was legally purchased in Florida almost a year ago.
Orphaned since his adoptive mother died last November – his adoptive father died several years ago – he lived with a friend’s parents who had offered to host him.
He had behavioral problems and had been followed for mental health problems, but he had stopped going to the clinic for about a year.