MIAMI (AP) — The former student charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month will face the death penalty, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is scheduled for formal arraignment Wednesday on a 34-count indictment, including 17 first-degree murder charges. Cruz’s attorneys have said he would plead guilty if the death penalty was not pursued in the Valentine’s Day massacre.
The office of Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz filed the formal notice of its intentions Tuesday. The action by prosecutors Tuesday does not necessarily mean a plea deal will not be reached.
The only other penalty option for Cruz is life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, has said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent, and that the death penalty might be going too far. Finkelstein said Cruz would likely plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.
“Because that’s what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die,” Finkelstein told The Associated Press last month.
Finklestein’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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