Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz said Friday he intends to plead guilty to killing 17 people in the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school, setting the stage for a trial focusing on whether he will be sentenced to death.
Cruz’s defense lawyer told a Broward County judge in a morning hearing that Cruz would change his plea on all counts in the homicide case against him. The defense team is seeking 17 consecutive life sentences for Cruz, 23. Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty. The formal change of plea from Cruz is expected Wednesday, when his lead attorney in the case returns to the state, the Washington Post reports.
Cruz also pleaded guilty Friday to assaulting a jailer in 2018. Appearing in court in a face mask, glasses and a black sweater, he told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that he understood the charges and felt competent entering the plea in the case, which is separate from his homicide trial.
When the judge asked if he had any hesitations, Cruz said, “I think I’m good.”
Scherer accepted the plea and noted to Cruz that prosecutors would use his conviction in the jail assault case as an “aggravating factor” in arguing for a death sentence for the Parkland killings.