Nikolas Cruz indicted on 34 counts in Parkland school massacre

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

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman Nikolas Cruz was indicted Wednesday on 34 counts related to the Feb. 14 mass shooting. 

Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. 

The case will be prosecuted by State Attorney Michael J. Satz. 

James and Kimberly Snead, who took in Cruz after his mother died, were questioned for an hour Wednesday morning by the grand jury.

"Their testimony is secret. They cannot talk about the content of their testimony," the Sneads' attorney, Jim Lewis, said. 

The panel heard testimony from multiple witnesses before voting on the indictment. 

Cruz has confessed to fatally shooting 17 people Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and injuring 16 others.

The Sneads previously said they allowed Cruz, who was friends with their son, to stay at their home following the recent death of his mother.

"They were very cooperative. Grand jurors asked them insightful questions and they answered them to the best of their ability," Lewis said.

On Tuesday, Lewis told Local 10 News that he expected the jurors to ask members of the Snead family whether they saw anything out of the ordinary involving Cruz and about the access he had to weapons he was allowed to have stored at the home.

"They are trying to do the right thing. They are in mourning just like everybody else in this community," Lewis said Wednesday. "They tried to provide a home to this young man who lost his mother and who didn't have a home. And nobody saw this coming. Nobody could predict this." 

Lewis said it's unclear how Cruz managed to get into the safe where his guns were stored, since James Snead believed he was the only one to have the key. 

Cruz could face the death penalty if  convicted.

The defense has said Cruz will agree to plead guilty to the murder charges if prosecutors agree to not seek the death penalty. 

Prosecutors have not said whether they will consider offering Cruz a plea deal. 

The State Attorney's Office said it notified all of the 17 victims' families about the grand jury and what to expect afterwards.

Cruz is expected to appear in court for an arraignment hearing in a couple of weeks. Prosecutors will have 45 days from that hearing to announce whether they will seek the death penalty. 

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