FLORIDA, USA — The gunman who is accused of killing 14 students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will plead guilty to their murders.
Nikolas Cruz's attorneys announced their intentions Friday morning at a hearing for another case in which Cruz plead guilty to attacking a jail guard nine months after the shooting.
By pleading guilty to the 17 murders, the court proceedings will be expedited and pick up with the penalty phase where Cruz, 23, will be fighting against the death penalty and hoping for life without parole.
Josh Sheridan, a former prosecutor in Pinellas County, thinks the defense ran out of any other options.
"My thinking is they’ve gotten to a point where they’ve exhausted all other avenues and they’re trying to save the families of the victims and the court system the hassle and the heartbreak and the emotional part of this," Sheridan said.
Reactions to the anticipated guilty plea came in fast.
Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime in the shooting, asked his Twitter followers to remember the victims rather than talk about the accused shooter.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd also reacted to the news of a guilty plea during a news conference.
"I have no idea what the strategy is. He’s a horrible mass murder," Judd said. "If anyone on the face of this earth has ever earned the death penalty, Nikolas Cruz earned it and he should receive it."
Judd is on a commission with several other sheriffs investigating what exactly happened at the school on February 14, 2018, that left 17 people dead and 17 others injured.
Nikolas Cruz is expected to enter his guilty plea at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in front of Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.