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Florida State Attorney Will Seek Death Penalty For Parkland Shooting Suspect

The state attorney in Broward County, Fla., announced Tuesday that he intends to seek the death penalty in the Parkland school shooting case.

In a news release, Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz said he had filed the notice of intent to seek death in the case against 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.

Last year, Florida abolished its non-unanimous jury recommendations for death. The state now requires that the sentencing jury be unanimous in recommending a death sentence before the trial judge may impose one. Florida had previously required a 10-2 standard to sentence someone to death.

The Sun-Sentinel reportsthat Cruz's attorneys had sought to resolve the case without a trial by offering to have Cruz plead guilty to all 34 counts in exchange for life in prison.

"We are still ready to enter a plea of 'guilty' to several consecutive life sentences, without parole, out of respect for the victims of this tragedy," Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes tells the newspaper.

In its filing, the state attorney's office cites seven aggravating factors in seeking the death penalty for Cruz, including that the crime was "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" and that it involves homicide "committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner."

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Corrected: March 12, 2018 at 9:00 PM MST
A previous headline incorrectly said the Florida attorney general is seeking the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, and the story incorrectly referenced the attorney general's office. It is State Attorney Michael Satz who filed the notice of intent.
Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.