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Finances of Parkland school shooting gunman examined at hearing

Attorney: Nikolas Cruz wants any money entitled to him donated to organization

PARKLAND, Fla. – The financial assets available to Parkland school shooting gunman Nikolas Cruz that might allow him to hire a private lawyer were being examined Wednesday at a court hearing.

Cruz, 19, has been represented at taxpayer expense by a Broward County public defender since the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The hearing Wednesday will look into whether Cruz could instead pay for his own defense.

Officials said in March that he had at least $37,000 from a variety of sources, including an insurance policy naming him as a beneficiary following his mother's death in November.

Cruz's lawyers had said there may be more available and promised to research exactly how much. His mother's estate could be worth nearly $1 million. 

During Wednesday's hearing, defense attorney Melisa McNeil told Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer that there are multiple lawsuits that have been filed against Cruz and his mother's estate, but Cruz is not seeking to keep any of the money he might be entitled to.

"Whatever money he's entitled to, he does not want that money," McNeil said. "He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims' families believe would be able to facilitate healing in our community, or an opportunity to educate our community about the issues that have ripened over the (past two months)."

Cruz was previously declared indigent. He faces the death penalty if convicted.


About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.