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Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to murder, apologizes for Parkland high school massacre

Cruz incurs a minimum of life imprisonment and a maximum of the death penalty.

After pleading guilty, he apologized to the victims in a brief speech.

“I’m really sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. If I had a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others,” said said Cruz. “I have to live with this everyday, and it gives me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I’m trying to get through it because I know that’s what you would like me to do. do. “

Death penalty trials are divided into two distinct sections: the guilt phase and the sentence phase. The guilty plea would resolve the first phase but not the second, and Cruz could still be sentenced to death.

Last week, the Broward State Attorney’s Office released a statement saying “there has been no plea bargain with the prosecution” and “if he pleads guilty, there would still be a sanction phase “.

The plea comes more than three and a half years after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Fla., In which it killed 17 students and faculty and injured 17 others in the deadliest shooting in a high school in US history.
The advocacy begins to conclude a legal chapter in a massacre that marked a community and spawned a massive national protest movement against gun violence in American schools.
The change in guilty plea was announced on Friday when Cruz, now 23, appeared briefly in Broward County Court to plead guilty to charges related to an assault in prison in November 2018. At the hearing Defense attorney David Wheeler said in court that Cruz intends to plead guilty in the school shooting, which could avoid part of a long trial.
Cruz’s defense team had long offered a guilty plea in exchange for a life sentence with no possibility of parole – but only if prosecutors withdraw the death penalty. Prosecutors had rejected him, saying they were seeking the death penalty.
Details of what prompted Wheeler to announce Friday that Cruz intended to plead guilty were not immediately available. Cruz had previously pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of premeditated first degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first degree murder, although he confessed to police, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The impact of the February 2018 shooting was felt far beyond South Florida, as survivors and relatives of the victims quickly spoke out and confronted lawmakers to advocate for control reform firearms. Other students in the United States joined the cause, organizing their own protests and school walkouts in the months following the massacre.

Guilty plea in assault in prison in November 2018

As for the prison assault case, Cruz appeared in Scherer’s courtroom on Friday to plead guilty, ending a trial for which jury selection began earlier this month.

Cruz was accused of assaulting a prison guard in November 2018, authorities said.

Wearing a navy blue sweater, white collar shirt and beige pants, Cruz stood on a podium on Friday and told Scherer that he understood the four charges against him in the case. aggression.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to murder, apologizes for Parkland high school massacre

When Scherer asked him how he was feeling, he replied, “I feel good,” before succinctly answering questions about his communication with his lawyers and his understanding of the proceedings.

He pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery on a police officer, depriving an officer of means of protection; and the use of a self-defense weapon against a law enforcement officer.

He faces a minimum sentence of approximately 14 and a half months for these pleas.

According to the arrest report, the incident started when a prison officer asked Cruz not to drag his sandals on the floor while walking in a common room.

Cruz tackled and hit the guard several times, then took his stun gun in a fight, according to the arrest report. As they fought against the device, the weapon discharged, the report said. Cruz hit the sergeant again several times until the guard regained control of the weapon, hit him in the face and took him into custody, the report indicates.

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.


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