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.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Parkland School Shooting
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.
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.
Cruz approached the bench Friday and answered questions from Scherer about his competency including his mental capacity and if has been taking medications.
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.
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.