Should Nikolas Cruz receive public defense at taxpayers’ expense?

Nikolas Cruz Parkland School Shooting

Parkland School shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was back in a Broward County courtroom on Wednesday. His assigned public defender told the judge that his client should continue to be represented at taxpayers’ expense and he likely does not have the assets to pay a private lawyer. Evidence showed the teen could have access to $30,000 or possibly much more, pending additional law suits.

The Broward County Public Defender’s office went on to say that $30,000 would not cover private attorney expenses for what could potentially be a multi-million dollar case. Cruz has more than $600 in his jail account and Microsoft stock worth over $2,000. In addition, he has a Wells Fargo bank account containing about $350.

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Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she would issue a decision before the next pretrial hearing scheduled for April 27.

Chief public defender Howard Finkelstein reiterated that Cruz was prepared to plead guilty to the 17 counts of First-Degree Murder and 17 counts of Attempted Murder if the prosecution would agree to drop the death penalty.

Prosecutors said the State would not allow that to happen, so the case must go to trial.

“The state of Florida is not allowing Mr. Cruz to choose his own punishment for the murder of 17 people,”Assistant State Attorney Shari Tate

An ongoing probate case involving the estate of Roger Cruz, Nikolas Cruz’s father, who died in 2004 may also contribute to the teen’s funds. But Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill told the judge that her office has not been able to determine what amount, if any, might go to Nikolas Cruz.

During the hearing, Cruz looked somber, with his head down and remained still and quiet while the legal teams discussed his financial circumstances. His brother, Zachary Cruz, was in attendance, but did not speak to the media.


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