Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty in Parkland school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder and attempted murder charges in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

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The six-minute shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, left 14 students and three staff members dead. Seventeen other people were also injured.

Last week, Cruz pleaded guilty to charges connected to an attack on a jail guard, WFOR-TV reported.

Update 11:25 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said jury selection for the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial in the murder and attempted murder charges he pleaded guilty to Wednesday will begin Monday, Jan. 4.

Update 11:24 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Wednesday set a scheduling and status conference for 9 a.m. Tuesday for attorneys to discuss which motions are moot and which need to be revisited following Cruz’s guilty plea.

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Wednesday sentenced Cruz to 15 years in Florida state prison for attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, with credit for time served.

She also sentenced Cruz to two consecutive five-year sentences for battery on a law enforcement officer and depriving an officer means of protection, and handed down the maximum 364-day jail sentence for attempted use of a self-defense weapon of a law enforcement officer.

Cruz had pleaded guilty to the charges Friday.

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: While speaking Wednesday, Cruz said he would leave it up to the victims and their families to determine whether he got the death penalty or a life sentence in the deadly 2018 shooting that claimed 17 lives and left 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I just want you to know I’m really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others,” he said. “I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go and whether I live or die – not the jury’s, I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.”

He later clarified that he understood that under Florida law, the decision would be up to a jury.

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: Cruz apologized Wednesday while addressing the court after entering guilty pleas in the 2018 shooting that left 17 people dead and 17 people injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it everyday,” he said, adding that “if I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to help others.

“I have to live with this every day and it brings me nightmares, and I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Update 10:23 a.m. EDT Oct. 20: Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder on Wednesday before Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

People sitting in the packed gallery could be seen wiping their eyes and crying as Cruz confirmed his plea to each of the 34 charges against him.

“I accept your plea of guilty,” Scherer said Wednesday.

Original report: The 23-year-old will plead guilty to 17 first-degree murder and 17 attempted murder charges before Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, his attorneys confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday. He will also plead guilty to the attack of a jail guard, the AP reported.

>> Related: Parkland school mass shooter Nikolas Cruz to plead guilty, lawyers confirm

Before accepting his plea Wednesday, Scherer asked Cruz to confirm that he understood that in relation to the first-degree murder charges, “The best-case scenario for you is a term of the rest of your life in Florida state prison.” He could also face a maximum penalty of death, the judge said.

He said that he was comfortable with his decision to plead guilty.

Prosecutors previously indicated that they plan to seek the death penalty in the case.

>> Related: Parkland shooting: Anniversary recalls six minutes of horror

Cruz was 19 years old on Feb. 14, 2018 when he brought an AR-15 rifle into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and began shooting in the school’s hallways. The attack left 17 people dead and injured 17 others.





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