Document filed by Nikolas Cruz's attorneys to remain sealed, judge rules

Judge says document involved defense attorneys' 'access' to Cruz

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Terrell Forney - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz appeared in court Monday.

The status hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. would mark Cruz's second time facing a judge after he fatally shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

Cruz's attorneys tried to prevent him from appearing in court because they didn't want him to face a media "circus," but prosecutors wanted Cruz at the hearing. 

During the hearing, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer said that a document filed Friday by the defense, which involved the attorneys' "access" to Cruz, would remain sealed since another judge had already agreed to keep it sealed. The defense previously argued that the document was no longer relevant to the case. 

The judge told prosecutors and Cruz's defense attorneys that everything from this point forward should be handled in open court. 

Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes confirmed to reporters after the hearing ended that his team has had physical access to Cruz.  

During a second hearing later in the day, Broward County Judge Charles Greene agreed to allow the Florida Department of Children and Families to publicly release any records it has pertaining to the 19-year-old suspect, although much of its investigative reports and case notes had already been leaked to the media.

One report classified Cruz as a vulnerable adult due to mental illness. It was also noted that Cruz had been diagnosed with depression, ADHD and autism, and that he was taking medication for the issues.

The defense has said that it will seek a plea deal in the case, where Cruz would agree to plead guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder if prosecutors do not seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors have said it is too early on for them to say whether or not they will be offering Cruz any type of plea deal. 

Earlier in the day, the Snead family, who Cruz lived with after his adoptive mother died, spoke to ABC's "Good Morning America," saying that they didn't see any red flags before the shooting.

"Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know," James Snead said.

James and Kimberly Snead said they allowed Cruz to keep his guns inside their home in a locked case, which James Snead believed only he had the key to.

James Snead said Cruz was polite and followed his rules "to a T."

Cruz is being held without bail at the Broward County Main Jail. The Snead family said they have no plans to visit Cruz. 

Copyright 2018 by WPLG - All rights reserved.