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Nikolas Cruz to plead guilty in Parkland school massacre

Cruz pleads guilty in attack of jail guard
Nikolas Cruz speaks to defense attorney David Wheeler before pleading guilty, Oct. 15, 2021
Posted at 8:35 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-16 00:01:47-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Parkland high school in 2018 will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said in court Friday.

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An abrupt court hearing was held in Fort Lauderdale for Nikolas Cruz, the man police said has confessed to the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Cruz's defense team told Judge Elizabeth Scherer of their client's intention to change his plea to guilty on all 17 counts of first-degree murder against him and 17 counts of attempted murder.

RELATED: Will Nikolas Cruz get life in prison or death penalty?

The pleas will come with no conditions and prosecutors still plan to seek the death penalty. That will be decided by a jury, with the judge hoping to start the trial in January.

Scherer said the official plea can take place at a Wednesday hearing.

Cruz, 23, was not initially present during the hearing, but later entered the Broward County courtroom to plead guilty to attacking a jail guard nine months after the shooting.

The attack of the guard occurred nine months after he was jailed following the Parkland school shooting.

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Cruz approached the bench Friday and answered questions from Scherer about his competency including his mental capacity and if has been taking medications.

Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer holds up plea agreement in front of Nikolas Cruz, Oct. 15, 2021
Judge Elizabeth Scherer holds up the written plea agreement as Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, with his defense attorney, Gabe Ermine, pleads guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He said he had not taken any medications recently.

Cruz later pleaded guilty on all four counts in the guard battery case, waiving his rights to a trial.

Scherer set Wednesday's change of plea hearing in the Parkland school shooting case for 9 a.m.

Defense attorney outlines latest in Nikolas Cruz case

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There are 34 counts against Cruz, who is expected to plead guilty.

Cruz and his lawyers had long offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors had repeatedly rejected that deal, saying the case deserved a death sentence.

The guilty plea brings some closure to a South Florida community more than three years after the attack on Valentine's Day sparked a nationwide movement for gun control.