Nikolas Cruz Makes Court Appearance Shackled and Head Bowed

Nikolas Cruz appeared in court on Monday to face 17 charges of premeditated murder after he confessed to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday.

The 19-year-old is one of the few mass shooting perpetrators to ever be taken alive. Cruz was captured not far from the high school trying to escape, less than two hours after the first shots were fired.

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(Photo: CBS Miami)

A reporter for The Miami Herald, David Ovalle, was in the courtroom when Cruz was called in by prosecutors.Ovalle kept his Twitter followers abreast of the developments as they occurred.

"In Broward criminal court for a status hearing on Nikolas Cruz, teen who killed 17 in worst school shooting in Florida history," Ovalle tweeted early on Monday morning. "Before Judge Elizabeth Scherer. Stay tuned."

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(Photo: CBS Miami)

Shortly into the proceedings, Cruz's lawyers made an unexpected move, trying to keep their filings a secret from the public.

"Cruz's lawyers filed a document under seal on Friday, now say whatever they were seeking is moot and want it sealed and kept from state - and public," Ovalle tweeted around 8 a.m. "Hearing reset to 1 p.m. to address sealing of records. Appears Cruz will be present, over defense objections."

"Judge Elizabeth Scherer seemed very reticent to seal the motion," he added, "saying it didn't appear under the statutes she could."

Meanwhile, Cruz's lawyers were distraught over their client being called into court.

"Cruz's defense didn't want him to appear in court to face a media 'circus,'" Ovalle tweeted. "But state asked he be present. Since they haven't seen the secret document, they don' t know if its crucial he hear what is happening."

Finally, Cruz arrived, and Ovalle gave an account of the confessed murderer's entrance.

"Nikolas Cruz just shuffled in, shackled in a red jumpsuit. His first live appearance in Court in case of mass school shooting. He has his head and eyes cast down. Surrounded by five deputies," Ovalle wrote.

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(Photo: CBS Miami)
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So far, there have been no more updates on Cruz's court appearance, from Ovalle or anyone else on the scene. From the very start, Cruz's lawyers didn't appear to have any hope of striking a deal for their client, even acknowledging early on that he might receive the death penalty. He is expected to plead guilty to all charges.

"It's to avoid the unnecessary arduous long painful traumatic re-enactment of something that is so horrific the families and the community should not have to relive," Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein told CNN. "Everybody knows who committed the crime and that the only question is does he live or does he die."