Judge grants Zachary Cruz's request to move to Virginia

Cruz, 18, says he has job lined up as maintenance mechanic

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Broward County judge on Friday granted Zachary Cruz's request to move to Virginia while serving his probation.

The attorney for the brother of Parkland school shooting gunman Nikolas Cruz said a home, a job and educational opportunities await the 18-year-old in Staunton, Virginia.

"I'm not going to stop you," the judge told the younger Cruz. 

Permission was required for the move because Zachary Cruz is on six months' probation for trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The probation conditions in Virginia will mirror the ones set for Zachary Cruz in Broward County, the judge said.  

Zachary Cruz said he is looking forward to a fresh start.

"I feel pretty good about it," he said. "I have an opportunity there that I don't have here."

The motion for permission to move stated that Zachary Cruz would be hired as a maintenance mechanic. His job and living quarters would be provided by Nexus Services, which specializes in helping people adjust after prison or treatment.

Nexus Services recently filed a lawsuit against several Broward County officials on behalf of Zachary Cruz, claiming they violated his constitutional rights because of who his brother is.

Zachary Cruz was held in jail for several days after he was arrested on March 19 for trespassing at the Parkland school.

"He's learned his lesson," defense attorney Mark Lowry said. "He understands now that any slip up, minor or major, is going to cause him to be back in custody."

Lowry said he appreciates that the state didn't fight so hard to stop Zachary Cruz from moving.

Nexus Services President and CEO Mike Donovan said the $500,000 bail was "a bail that offends our sensibilities as Americans and our understanding of what it means to have due process and the right of liberty pending trial for accusations we're not yet convicted of."

Prosecutors argued for the higher bail for a number of reasons. They said they became concerned after learning Zachary Cruz mentioned his brother's notoriety and the pair discussed a "fan club" that could attract girls. The younger Cruz was given a mental health evaluation and authorities also searched his home for weapons under a new law passed after the mass shooting. No weapons were found.

Nexus Services alleges that Zachary Cruz was harassed and intimidated by guards while he was held at the main jail in Fort Lauderdale. Zachary Cruz was also subjected to sleep deprivation tactics and had to wear a restraint vest at all times, the group said.

"I'm very happy with the court's ruling, and I'm looking forward to starting a new life in Virginia," Zachary Cruz said.

Nikolas Cruz remains in jail without bond and faces the death penalty if he is convicted of killing 17 people Feb. 14 at the school in Parkland.

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