Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Florida prosecutors seeking death penalty in school shooting

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Nikolas Cruz

MIAMI (AP):

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for the former student charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month even though attorneys for Nikolas Cruz indicated he would plead guilty if his life was spared.

Cruz, 19, is scheduled for formal arraignment Wednesday on a 34-count indictment, including 17 first-degree murder charges. The office of Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz filed the formal notice of its intentions Tuesday, though the action 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 shoot-ing, 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."

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie Guttenberg died in the shooting, was angry the state decided to pursue the death penalty, noting how tortuously long capital punishment cases last.

"My reaction is, as a parent of a deceased student, I expected that the state would have pulled the parents together to ask what we wanted, and they didn't," he said.