Nikolas Cruz Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty for Florida School Shooting

Florida prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student charged in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

The Broward State Attorney Michael J. Satz filed the notice of intent on Tuesday, ABC News reports. Cruz is scheduled for a formal arraignment on Wednesday on a 34-count indictment.

Cruz was formally charged on Wednesday with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree for his confessed massacre on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Miami Herald reporter David Oralle shared a partial copy of the notice on Twitter to confirm prosecutors' course of action, which was expected.

In the documents, prosecutors call the mass shooting to which Cruz confessed "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel," as well as "cold, calculated and premeditated."

Also in the docs obtained by TMZ, prosecutors say they want to choose the mental health expert who will evaluate Cruz should the defense raise his mental health as a mitigating factor in the crime.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, has said there were many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent ahead of his confessed attack on his former high school, and that the death penalty might be going too far.

Finkelstein said Cruz would likely plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty, though the only other penalty option for Cruz is life in prison with no possibility of parole.

"Because that's what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die," Finkelstein told The Associated Press last month.

Florida uses lethal injection to execute prisoners.

Despite the action by prosecutors Tuesday, a plea deal could still be reached in Cruz's case.


Cruz has been held in a separate cell during his time in Broward County Jail since Feb. 15, due to his high-profile status and being on suicide watch. The Broward County Sheriff's Office released a report of police officers' observations of Cruz between Feb. 17 and Feb. 24, which reveal that he has been cooperative but quiet and often "sits with a blank stare."

Cruz has had visits from his lawyers, and has been "awkward" before and after those interruptions in his solitude. He was also granted one "family visit," according to the account. He also asked police for a Bible to read before a night of restless sleep.