Attorney: Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz to plead guilty to 17 murder charges

Attorney says Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty next Wednesday
Parkland School Shooter Nikolas Cruz in court on 10/15/2021
Nikolas Cruz
Posted at 2:05 AM, Oct 15, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The gunman accused of killing 14 students and three staff members at a Parkland, Florida, high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said Friday, bringing some closure to a South Florida community more than three years after an attack that sparked a nationwide movement for gun control.

Lawyers for Nikolas Cruz, 23, said Friday that he will plead guilty to 17 murder charges and 17 charges of attempted murder next Wednesday. That hearing will start at 9 a.m.

Once Cruz pleads guilty, a jury will decide whether he should be sentenced to death or be given a life sentence.

Friday Cruz pleaded guilty to:

  • Attempted aggravated battery of law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon - guilty 
    • Felony
    • Up to 15 yrs
  • Battery on a law enforcement third-degree felony - guilty 
    • Up to 5 yrs
  • Depriving officer with means protection — guilty 
    • Up to 5 yrs
  • Attempted use of a self defense weapon against law enforcement officer — guilty 
    • Up to 1 yr

Cruz has so far served 1,068 days behind bars.
The hearing in Broward County Circuit Court was scheduled abruptly Thursday, and no purpose was given. Even if he pleads guilty, a jury would still decide whether Cruz gets the death penalty or life in prison.

Cruz is charged with carrying out a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018. Police say Cruz issued a confession shortly after he was arrested following the shooting.

Cruz's trial has often been delayed over the past three years — partly due to the pandemic but also due to the sheer magnitude of the case and the hundreds of witnesses involved.

In February, The Associated Press reported that Cruz's lawyers repeatedly said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors did not wish to take the death penalty off the table.