According to a report, Parkland killer Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty to 17 counts of first degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder instead of going to a full trial.
The gunman’s defense team said Cruz would admit to the murders in exchange for a life sentence without parole — if prosecutors refused to demand the death penalty, WSVN reports.
Prosecutors had previously rejected that offer, saying this case deserves a death sentence.
The Public Prosecution Service said: WSVN that they “neither confirm nor deny” Cruz would plead guilty
The outlet said Cruz’s lawyers will announce the plea on Friday.
A guilty plea would mean that the legal proceedings would go straight to the criminal stage.
Cruz, then 19, raided Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, armed with an AR-15 rifle, “multiple magazines” and smoke grenades.
He killed 14 students and three staff members and injured 17 more.
Cruz is said to have set off a fire alarm shortly after 2 p.m. to lure people into the hallways before opening fire. He was arrested an hour later.
Nikolas Cruz, now 23, pictured in court on Oct. 6. In 2018, then 19-year-old Marjory Stoneman raided Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle, “multiple magazines” and smoke grenades killing 14 students and three staffers and injuring 17 more.
Cruz is said to have set off a fire alarm shortly after 2 p.m. to lure people into the hallways before opening fire. He was arrested an hour later. Pictured are students evacuating Parkland high school after the deadly attack
WSVN reported that Cruz will also plead guilty in November 2018 to assaulting a Broward County security guard.
Surveillance footage of the incident shows Cruz running towards him to punch Sergeant Raymond Beltran in a minute-long brawl that ended with the 130-pound inmate being pinned to the floor.
If Cruz pleads guilty to the November 2018 battery, this trial will also move to the penalty stage.
Prosecutors could argue that the attack is an aggravating factor when they demand his execution during the penalty phase of the Parkland trial.
Earlier this month, Cruz wept in Broward County court when Circuit Court judge Elizabeth Scherer ruled that he could not draw with crayons in the battery trial jury selection process, which could face an additional 15 years.
Gabe Ermine, left, and Jaclyn Broudy stand with their client, Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, as potential jurors enter the courtroom in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 5.
In this file photo, Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz speaks with public defender Melisa McNeill before a preliminary hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale
Mourners visit a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on the two-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting in which Nikolas Cruz killed 17 victims
On Wednesday, the jury selection process continued into the jail assault trial, as attorneys struggled to find potential jurors who could try Cruz impartially. But in the first group of 32, one prospect cried after seeing Cruz in court.
It was the third time this happened in two days, NBC South Florida reports.
The sight seemed to upset Cruz, and one of his lawyers could be seen handing him some crayons and a page from a coloring book featuring the Pokémon character Pikachu, according to Andrew Lofholm, a reporter for CBS 12.
After that group left, NBC South Florida reports, prosecutor Maria Schneider accused Cruz’s lawyers of giving them crayons to make him appear sympathetic.
‘They do [that] so the jury sees that he’s a kid, that his mentality is being challenged in some way,” she argued to Circuit Court judge Elizabeth Scherer.
On October 6, one of Cruz’s lawyers was seen handing him some crayons and a page from a coloring book featuring the Pokémon character Pikachu.
Cruz’s lead attorney, Gabe Ermine, however, told Scherer that this was not their intention – they just wanted to calm him down as he looked down for most of the morning. Ermine also tried to hide Cruz from view with a laptop screen.
“I’m trying to keep him calm,” Ermine said. “We’re not doing this for nefarious reasons.” He also pointed out that Cruz hadn’t actually signed anything, NBC reports.
Cruz, who had a troubled past, was a member of a white nationalist group before committing the deadly shooting, and bought the AR-15 rifle within that year. He had also recently suffered the loss of his adoptive mother.
Experts suggest he may also suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a congenital condition that causes developmental and behavioral problems, low IQ and poor reasoning and judgment skills.
Stoneman Douglas students revealed they feared the gun-obsessed 19-year-old would brag about hurting animals and bring knives and bullets to school. His former classmates say they always suspected he was capable of committing such a heinous crime. Shown here are students evacuating on February 14, 2018
Stoneman Douglas students revealed they feared the gun-obsessed 19-year-old would brag about hurting animals and bring knives and bullets to school. His former classmates say they always suspected he was capable of committing such a heinous crime.
It also appears that the FBI missed an opportunity to intervene before the shooting, when a Mississippi bailiff last year warned the FBI about an alarming online message that Cruz wrote that he would “become a professional school shooter.”
Cruz, who stopped receiving mental health care about a year before the shooting, had been expelled from the school where he had carried out the shooting after fighting with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.