Nikolas Cruz, who has admitted to killing 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, could go on trial as early as September.
At a hearing on Thursday, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Schere said the courthouse will be ready to accommodate the trial by then, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She told attorneys they should be ready to start jury selection in September.
The trial had been delayed in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The newspaper noted that Cruz has admitted to the 2018 Valentine’s Day shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He has offered to plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in return for a life sentence.
But prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. A mental health evaluation is key to the defense plans to argue to spare Cruz’s life. But Cruz’s lawyers have not been able to send mental health examiners to the jail due to the pandemic.
Andrew Pollack, the father of a student killed during the shooting spree at Douglas, spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2020 about the shootings.
"Far-left Democrats in our school district made this shooting possible because they implemented something they called restorative justice," Andrew Pollack said. "It's tough to understand how much Mr. Biden understands what happened at Parkland. He's campaigned bringing back restorative justice.
"Mr. Biden may not know when my daughter was murdered, but I do. Feb. 14, 2018. Mr. Biden may not know that these policies make shootings more likely, but I do. Mr. Biden may not know who was vice president that day, but I do. It wasn't Joe Biden, it was Mike Pence, thank God," Pollack said.
Meanwhile, the Sun Sentinel, in a 2019 story, detailed how Cruz had been writing love letters in jail to a young woman overseas. In the letters, he proposed marriage and said he wanted to name his sons after guns. But he never mentioned the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The newspaper had obtained copies of 46 pages of Cruz’ letters from the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
In the letters, the Sentinel said he does tell his female pen pal to listen to “Pumped Up Kicks” by the band Foster the People. It is a song about a school shooting and includes the lyrics: “You’d better run, better run, outrun my gun. Better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”
Cruz said he’s "a huge Second Amendment supporter even though I’m here in jail for being on the wrong side of the law. I still believe it’s a special right to have and I try to encourage everyone including you to take part in it."
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