Zachary Cruz walks out of Broward County jail after second arrest

Lawyers from GPS tracking company seek to invalidate plea deal

By Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter, Liane Morejon - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer, Julie Aleman - Producer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's adoptive brother, Zachary Cruz, received a warning from Judge Melinda Brown before she let him go Thursday. 

"They are watching you," Brown said in court. 

Since the Valentine's Day massacre, Broward Sheriff's Office deputies have arrested the 18-year-old former MSD student twice. He admitted to trespassing at MSD while skateboarding after he was arrested March 19th, and he lso admitted to driving without a license when he was arrested Tuesday. 

Zachary Cruz was accused of violating the terms of his probation. Brown also warned him that if a deputy finds him driving without a license again, he will be arrested and held in custody for about two months. 

His defense attorney, Mark Lowry, first filed a not guilty plea Wednesday night, saying his client had neither been charged nor cited in Palm Beach County. He was able to work out a plea agreement with prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy indicating he had been barred from being at any school in which he was not a student. But deputies said he was was driving within 25 feet of a school.  

Zachary Cruz's treatment -- including allegations that he was tortured and coerced into the terms of his plea deal -- after the Valentine's Day massacre alarmed attorneys from Nexus Services, a Virginia-based advocacy group related to Nexus, which provides GPS tracking services for defendants.

Nexus Services filed a lawsuit claiming Zachary Cruz's constitutional rights were being violated. They claim deputies victimized Zachary Cruz with sleep deprivation tactics, overuse of a restraint vest and constant intense lighting.

Nexus Services president, Mike Donovan, said these are "procedures that amount to torture under the Geneva Convention, and are behaviors we do not permit soldiers to use in the battlefield." And he had a message for Broward Sheriff Scott Israel: "Your deputies don't have confidence in you. The people don't have confidence in you. You need to go!"

Donovan said he was also concerned about Broward County Judge Kim Theresa Mollica's order to hold Zachary Cruz on a "clearly excessive" $500,000 bond instead of the $25 bond that was required for the charge of trespassing in March. 

Donovan's Libre by Nexus, an immigration bond services company, is the subject of probes by the attorneys general of Virginia, New York, Washington state and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to state and federal court records, The Washington Post reported in April. He has been accused of preying on detained immigrants

His company, founded in 2013, provides GPS ankle devices, and charges undocumented immigrants $420 per month for the service. Nexus Services launched their Nexus Derechos Humanos, a pro bono legal arm to help undocumented migrants. Dallas Le Pierre, an attorney with the pro bono office, was at the news conference in Broward to talk about Zachary Cruz's case Thursday. 

"The treatment he received was coercive," LePierre said. "That makes the contract, and the plea deal was a contract, unconscionable."

Correction: This story originally reported Zachary Cruz required a bond to be released Thursday, but his attorney Mark Lowry later clarified it did not. 

Copyright 2018 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.