Monday 22 October 2018

Florida school suspect charged with 17 counts of murder

Nikolas Cruz at a court hearing (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)
Nikolas Cruz at a court hearing (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has been formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder.

It could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

A grand jury in Fort Lauderdale returned the indictment on Wednesday against the 19-year-old for the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and 16 were wounded.

The indictment also charges Cruz with 17 counts of attempted murder.

School Shooting-Florida
School Shooting-Florida

Cruz's public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence.

The Broward County state attorney has not announced a decision on the death penalty.

The couple who provided a home to Cruz before the massacre had earlier given evidence before the grand jury considering the case charges.

James and Kimberly Snead each spent about half an hour in closed-door evidence on Wednesday before the panel.

Their lawyer Jim Lewis says they answered all questions and were fully cooperative.

Mr Lewis says the couple were shocked by what happened and did not foresee Cruz doing something like the shooting.

Supporters back returning pupils at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (AP)
Supporters back returning pupils at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (AP)

The Sneads took in Cruz after he briefly lived with a family friend following the death of his mother in November.

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