Judge: Parkland School Shooting Suspect Nikolas Cruz Keeps Public Defender - NBC 6 South Florida
Parkland School Tragedy

Parkland School Tragedy

Marking One Year Since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting

Judge: Parkland School Shooting Suspect Nikolas Cruz Keeps Public Defender

Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer's ruling Tuesday says Cruz has at most $28,000 in assets

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Overcoming Tragedy: Parkland Shooting Two Months Later

    On Feb. 14, a former student, 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz, opened fire on students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17 and injuring many others. In the aftermath, students who survived the tragic mass shooting ignited a nationwide movement that called for change in gun laws, touching all corners of the United States. (Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018)

    What to Know

    • A judge has decided that Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz should continue to be represented by a public defender

    • Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer's ruling Tuesday says Cruz has at most $28,000 in assets

    Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz should continue to be represented in the death penalty case by a public defender at taxpayer expense, a judge ruled Tuesday.

    Cruz has only about $28,000 in assets, and most of that he cannot immediately access, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer wrote. She said that is not enough money to hire a private lawyer in a case of this magnitude.

    "The court finds that this is not a typical felony case, or even a typical capital felony case," the judge wrote.

    Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He is being held without bail.

    Lawyer of Family Who Took in Cruz Speaks About Lawsuit

    [MI] Lawyer of Family Who Took in Cruz Speaks About Lawsuit

    The lawyer of the family who took in Nikolas Cruz is speaking out about the lawsuit. NBC 6 Reporter Steve Litz has more.

    (Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

    Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said in an email that Scherer "made the right ruling under the law and the unique nature of this case."

    Finkelstein repeated that Cruz will plead guilty if prosecutors waive the death penalty, which they have declined to do.

    "We still believe it is in the best interests of the families and the community to end this case now rather than take a 20-year march to impose the death penalty which will link them for decades to the person who killed their loved one," he said.

    The state attorney's office declined comment.

    According to the judge's order, Cruz's major known asset is $25,000 from a life insurance policy taken out by his mother, Lynda Cruz, who died in November. Scherer noted, however, that Cruz has no access to that money while in jail and it's unclear what in his mother's estate might benefit him.

    "Whether or not (Cruz) will ultimately receive any monies from his mother's estate is not known," Scherer wrote.

    Cruz also has $2,200 in Microsoft stock, $700 in a Broward County Jail commissary account and $353 in a bank account, the order says.

    Scherer added that if more assets are identified for Cruz that "would afford him the ability to retain private counsel" she would revisit his status as indigent.

    Another pretrial hearing is scheduled Friday.

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