Nikolas Cruz trial expected to begin next January

Cruz seeks to be waived from appearing at future hearings

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Nikolas Cruz was back in court Wednesday for a status hearing in the 2018 school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer questioned Cruz in court after one of his attorneys asked that he be waived from appearing at certain hearings, saying the defense is willing to file a motion each time a hearing is scheduled to determine whether their client has to appear.

Cruz said "yes" when the judge asked him if he knew what waiving his court appearances meant and if he had spoken about it beforehand with his attorneys. 

Scherer agreed to not have Cruz appear for an upcoming hearing in September. 

During the status hearing, Scherer also made it known that she wants Cruz's trial to begin in early January 2020. The defense said it will try to be ready by that time, while the state said it will be ready.

Cruz, 20, is accused of killing 17 people and wounding 17 others in the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.

His lawyers say Cruz will plead guilty in exchange for a life in prison sentence, but prosecutors want the case to go to trial so that a jury can decide his fate.

Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted at trial.

 

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