61ºF

Attorneys want judge to separate Nikolas Cruz, detention deputy he's accused of attacking

Motion seeks court order to keep sergeant away from Parkland school shooter

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz briefly appears in court Dec. 11, 2018, as prosecutors modify two charges and add another related to a November incident in jail.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Attorneys for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz want a judge to keep their client and the detention deputy guarding him separated.

A motion filed by the defense last week is asking Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer to issue a "no contact" order between Cruz and Broward Sheriff's Office Sgt. Raymond Beltran.

Cruz, 20, was charged last month with battery on a law enforcement officer after deputies said he attacked Beltran in the dayroom area. Deputies said he rushed at Beltran, punched him in the face and took his stun gun during the Nov. 13 scuffle.

Defense attorneys wrote in their motion that there had been "increasing discord" between Cruz and Beltran, which they relayed to the captain in charge of overseeing Cruz's incarceration, but Beltran "continued to have regular and direct contact" with him.

Even after the altercation, Beltran is "still assigned to supervise" Cruz and "still participates in searching" him and his cell.

According to the motion, Scherer admitted during a Nov. 27 hearing that continued interaction between Cruz and Beltran was "not a good idea," but she expressed concern that she didn't have the authority to issue such an order.

The motion also claims that state prosecutors objected to the order.

Meanwhile, during a court appearance Tuesday, Cruz had two of the charges related to the jail incident modified. Cruz now faces charges of attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and attempted use of an electric or chemical weapon against a law enforcement officer. Prosecutors also added a charge of depriving a law enforcement officer of protection.

Cruz has been held without bond since the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three faculty members dead. He is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He faces the death penalty if convicted.


About the Author: