Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people during a brutal school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, wants to offer a guilty plea in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, according to his lawyer.
The Sun Sentinel reports that public defender Howard Finkelstein, who’s representing 19-year-old Cruz, said that a trial would essentially be a “waste of time” since his client’s guilt is not in question. The attorney, instead, wants to offer a guilty plea on behalf of Cruz, in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty.
“There is no way anyone can minimize the tragedy of what took place,” the public defender said. “It’s time to mourn; it’s time to figure out how to prevent future tragedies. He should spend the rest of his life in prison, but he does not deserve to die.”
Finkelstein indicated that Cruz’s disabilities should be taken into consideration when determining the appropriate punishment, including the suspect’s previous “screams for help,” such as when he cut his own arms following a former girlfriend breaking up with him. The attorney also said the suspect was autistic, confirmed by paperwork from the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to Time.
“This kid didn’t have to fall through the cracks. He screamed for help, and we failed him,” Finkelstein said . “He should never go free. Let him plead guilty and send him to prison for life.”
Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, Prosecutor Shari Tate of the Broward State Attorney’s Office said it’s too soon after the tragedy to determine the penalty to be sought against the suspect.
State Attorney Michael J. Satz added on Saturday that “certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for,” but for now, it’s time to “to let the families grieve and bury their children and loved ones.”
“Our office will announce our formal position at the appropriate time,” Satz said, according to CNN.
Cruz, whose being held without bond in the Broward County jail, is scheduled for his next court hearing on Monday. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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[Feature Photo: Nikolas Cruz/Police Handout]