Tuesday Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz filed a formal notice stating that they will be seeking the death penalty for the 19-year-old gunman charged with killing 17 people on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
However, the action does not necessarily mean that a plea deal will not be reached, the Associated Press reported. If convicted, the only other option available to Cruz other than the death penalty is life in prison, with no chance of parole.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is scheduled for formal arraignment Wednesday on a 34-count indictment, including 17 first-degree murder charges. Cruz’s attorneys have said he would plead guilty if the death penalty was not pursued in the Valentine’s Day massacre.
Ira Jaffe, whose son and daughter survived the shooting, said he respects the wishes of the 17 families whose children were killed and that time is better spent finding solutions to the problem of mass school shootings.
“Live forever in jail or die – I don’t care,” Jaffe said in an email. “Cruz will rot in hell no matter when it is that he arrives there.”
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, has said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent, and that the death penalty might be going too far. Finkelstein said Cruz would plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.
“Because that’s what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die,” Finkelstein told The Associated Press last month.
JUST IN: broward county prosecutors to seek death penalty for parkland shooter nikolas cruz pic.twitter.com/JHZ7peuSdk
— kelly cohen (@politiCOHEN_) March 13, 2018