Nikolas Cruz 'A Broken Human Being,' Public Defender Says

During Nikolas Cruz's first court appearance on Thursday, public defender Melisa McNeill, appeared to comfort the accused murderer as he stood with his head slightly lowered.

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(Photo: Pool / Pool, Getty)

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with shackles around his wrists and ankles, the confessed Florida school shooter said only "yes, ma'am" when addressed by Judge Kim Theresa Mollica, who ordered him held without bond.

At the hearing, Judge Kim Theresa Mollica reiterated the charges against the 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which includes 17 counts of premeditated murder.

McNeill put a hand on Cruz's shoulder before telling reporters after the hearing that he was sad and remorseful.

"He's sad. He's mournful. He's remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on, and he's just a broken human being," she said.

Cruz's defense team revealed that he was on suicide watch and that he understood the magnitude of his actions.

Many took to social media to voice their outrage at McNeill's words of defense for Cruz.

"Nikolas Cruz’s lawyer just said that he’s 'remorseful'. Screw that crap! He should have thought about that BEFORE he planned a massacre," one person said.

"I just cant understand how his lawyer must feel. imagine coming home to your spouse and having to tell him that you have to defend the piece of s— that murdered 17 kids all because it’s your job," another said.

Another person called it "twisted."

One said his defense is "disgusting."

Some posited that his feelings pale in comparison to the families who lost their children and siblings.

Before the hearing, an official with the public defender’s office described Cruz as a “deeply troubled child who has endured a lot of emotional trauma in a short period of time," the Sun-Sentinel reports. Among those potential tragedies may have been the death of Cruz's mother, who reportedly died from pneumonia in November.

But most people on social media weren't buying what the defense was selling, with one person arguing that "plenty of broken children ... turn their lives around."

Another member of the defense team, Gordon Weeks, was brought to tears as he addressed reporters, telling them that Cruz "recognizes" what he has done and is "deeply sad."

"He is dealing with the shock of all this that's going on," Weeks said.

McNeill and Weeks said that Cruz suffers from autism, depression and has dealt with significant psychological problems, in addition to a lack of support system.

"When your brain is not fully developed, you don't know how to deal with these things," McNeil said. "That's the child I'm sitting across from."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has said she is "certain" prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty for the teen shooter.

Cruz reportedly admitted to killing 17 people, according to the Associated Press.

Cruz went into the school "with a premeditated design, in that he went loaded with an AR-15 rifle. He had additional ammunition with him… and shot 17 individuals who later died as a result of the gunshot wounds and then he fled the scene," the prosecution said during the hearing Thursday.

"I find probable cause. I further find the proof of guilt to be evident or the presumption great, therefore Mr. Cruz, you’re going to be held without bond until further order of the court. This order is without prejudice," Mollica said.