Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz seek more preparation time in upcoming murder trial

Motion to continue cites judge’s re-election campaign among ‘disturbing factors’ behind January 2020 start date

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz sits in a Broward County courtroom during a hearing, Dec. 9, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz sits in a Broward County courtroom during a hearing, Dec. 9, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (WPLG)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Attorneys for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz are asking a Broward County judge to delay his upcoming murder trial.

A motion filed Monday seeks to continue the trial, scheduled to begin next month, until a later date to give defense attorneys more time to prepare.

Cruz is set to go to trial Jan. 27, less than two years after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed the lives of 17 people.

According to the motion, the scheduled start date is only 20 months after the state produced its initial discovery in the case.

"This period of preparation time is significantly shorter than even the 'typical capital felony case' and shorter than the period of time allowed for preparation of several 'typical' non-capital felony cases in this court's division," Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein wrote in the motion.

The motion claims that, if the trial begins as scheduled, "the 20-month period defense counsel will have had to prepare the case for trial is less than half the median preparation time that Broward circuit courts have permitted for the preparation of capital cases over the past two decades."

It goes on to say that starting the trial in January "would bring this case to trial faster than 33 of the 38 death penalty cases in Broward County since 1994."