Parkland school shooter's brother agrees to plea deal on trespassing charge

Zachary Cruz released from jail, told 'never to return' to campus

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The brother of the Parkland school shooter has been released from jail after agreeing to a plea deal on a trespassing charge.

Zachary Cruz pleaded no contest Thursday during a hearing in which his attorneys prepared to argue that his $500,000 bond amount was excessive.

"The defendant is to be adjudicated guilty of the offense and be placed on six months of probation," prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy said in announcing the terms of the plea deal.

Broward County Judge Melinda Kirsch Brown also ordered that Cruz enroll in therapy, wear a GPS monitor and said he cannot possess firearms or ammunition.

"You're never to return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland," the judge told Cruz.

Cruz's bond was originally $25, which is typical for such a charge.

The 18-year-old brother of Nikolas Cruz was arrested March 19 after Broward Sheriff's Office deputies found him skateboarding at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He had previously been told not to be on the campus.

Zachary Cruz is the younger brother of Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to killing 14 students and three employees at the school on Valentine's Day.

Another judge raised Zachary Cruz's bond to $500,000 after Murphy argued that he had been to the campus multiple times and had disturbing conversations with his brother -- conversations discussing how "popular" his brother now was, how his face is well-known across the country and discussing the possibility of starting a fan club for Nikolas Cruz.

Murphy said Zachary Cruz also has a criminal history from 2016 for charges of grand theft, petty theft and criminal mischief. 

His attorney, Joseph Kimok, said the increased bond was not only unlawful but also unconstitutional. Kimok said it forced his client to enter a plea so he could get out of jail.

However, Kimok said his client understands why so many people were disturbed by his presence at the school.

"He's very, very sorry for if he threatened or scared anybody, but he's just looking forward to, kind of, getting on with his life," Kimok said.

Cruz walked out of jail with Kimok shortly after 1 p.m.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Zachary Cruz must stay at least a mile away from the school, not return to Broward County unless it's for a court appearance or to speak with his attorneys, stay at least 500 feet away from any school or child-care facility and not have any direct or indirect contact with his brother or family members of the shooting victims.

About the Authors: