Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Florida judge enters not-guilty plea for suspected school shooter

Florida judge enters not-guilty plea for suspected school shooter Florida judge enters not-guilty plea for suspected school shooter
Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2018, 23:38

Cruz allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, killing 17 people and injuring others. Video of what happened inside the school is not being released.

Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz has pleaded not guilty to killing 17 people at his old school last month.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein says Cruz is "immediately ready" to plead guilty in return for 34 consecutive life sentences but not with the death penalty on the table. He appeared in court Wednesday as students across the nation walked out of school to protest gun violence. It also prompted a nationwide walkout of thousands of students Wednesday, who showed solidarity with the Parkland students a month after the shooting.

In its filing, the prosecution said that, among the aggravating factors spurring its decision, were that Cruz knowingly created a risk of death for many people, his crime was aimed at hindering "any government function or the enforcement of laws" and that the shooting was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel". Because he refused to announce his plea, the judge entered it for him on each of the 34 counts he faces.

Relatives of some of the victims killed and injured in the mass shooting attended the hearing, including the families of Jamie Guttenberg and Nick Dworet, who were killed and the families of Maddy Wilford and Anthony Borges who were injured in the shooting. "They are bleeding. They are all going to die", a teenage girl calling from Room 1216 said through tears and heavy breathing.

The video will allow people to consider "whether a different course of action may have lessened or averted the tragic outcome", the news organizations argued in a petition filed by lawyer Dana J. McElroy, of Thomas & LoCicero in Tampa. "He is upstairs now".

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"He's twitching. There's blood all over", she said.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office and county School Board had resisted the video release, saying it was exempt from disclosure in part because it was evidence in an active investigation.

On the third floor, officers said they found an AR-15 with a magazine still attached.

A student recorded in another call expresses fear the shooter could easily open the door if he returned because a bullet shattered the glass portion.

Cruz was arrested a few blocks away from the school.

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