Florida prosecutors seeking death penalty in school shooting


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 today.

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. The action by prosecutors does not necessarily mean a plea deal will not be reached.

The only other penalty option for Cruz, if convicted, is life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Ira Jaffe, whose son and daughter survived the shooting, said he respects the wishes of the 17 families whose children were killed and that time is better spent finding solutions to the problem of mass school shootings.

"Live forever in jail or die - I don't care," Jaffe said in an email. "Cruz will rot in hell no matter when it is that he arrives there."

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 plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.

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