FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The 19-year-old shooter who confessed to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School retained an attorney to help him deal with his mother's inheritance about two months before he decided to walk onto the Parkland campus with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Boca Raton-based attorney Audra Simovitch had been trying to meet with Cruz after the shooting and filed an emergency motion Wednesday complaining about not being able to do so. Broward County Circuit Court Judge Charles Greene responded to her petition Thursday.
"The Broward County Public Defender's Office shall not interfere with counsel's right to speak with Nikolas Cruz regarding this pending probate case," Greene ordered, adding that the Broward Sheriff's Office should also allow Simovitch access to her client.
When Cruz's adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz, died of pneumonia Nov. 1, he and his biological brother Zachary Cruz moved in with their mother's friend, Rocxanne Deschamps, in Lantana. Deputies were called to the mobile home Nov. 28 when Deschanps' 22-year-old son told deputies Cruz had been punching holes in walls and breaking objects, and when Cruz punched him in the jaw, he hit back.
After Thanksgiving, Cruz moved in with the Snead family in Parkland. Kimberly Snead, a nurse, and James Snead, a military analyst, told the SunSentinel that Cruz told them he stood to inherit at least $800,000 -- most of the money would come when he turned 22 -- and he feared Deschamps was stealing from him.
According to court records, Deschamps also signed the retainer agreement with Simovitch, as the proposed personal representative.
Zachary Cruz turned 18 years old Wednesday, while Deschamps was petitioning the court to appoint her as the estate's administrator.
If Nikolas Cruz gets access to the estate, he will have to hire a private attorney to defend him. He faces 17 counts of premeditated murder after confessing to killing 14 teenagers and three adults.