FLORIDA — Nikolas Cruz, the student who has been charged with 34 counts of murder and attempted murder in a shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, plead not guilty at an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning.
Cruz sat with his head hung without looking at members of the victims’ families who sat in the audience while a large number of deputies surrounded the courtroom during the hearing.
“In terms of entering a plea, we stand mute, your Honor,” stated Cruz’s attorney, Melisa McNeill.
McNeill advised the court and prosecuting attorneys that Cruz was willing to enter a plea of guilty at any time if they would waive the death penalty.
Although a public defender was appointed to defend Cruz, questions arose during the hearing about his qualifications for a public defender.
The Public Defender’s office filed a motion for a determination of indigency in order to determine if Cruz is financially eligible for a public defender after discovering assets in excess of $30,000 available to Cruz.
A hearing on that motion will be held in April allowing the courts more time to investigate Cruz’s assets and finances to determine if he is eligible.
If represented by a public defender, the state would then be responsible for all court costs during the trial.
The next hearing in the trial is scheduled on April 27, 2018.