Nikolas Cruz intends to plead guilty to Parkland shooting charges, his lawyer says

Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty to charges stemming from the February 2018 massacre at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nikolas Cruz is shown here in a Florida court.

By Amanda Watts and Jason Hanna, CNN

(CNN) -- Nikolas Cruz intends to plead guilty to charges stemming from the February 2018 massacre at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School -- the deadliest high school shooting in US history -- his attorney said Friday in court.

The plea would come more than three and a half years after the Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland that left 17 students and faculty members dead and injured 17 others.

If accepted, the plea would start to wrap up a legal chapter in a massacre that scarred a community and spawned a massive national protest movement against gun violence in American schools.

Details about what prompted Cruz's attorney, David Wheeler, to announce Friday that Cruz intends to plead guilty weren't immediately available.

Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer set a change of plea hearing for Wednesday morning. Also Friday, Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to charges related to a November 2018 jail assault.

In the school shooting, Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.

A not guilty plea was previously entered on Cruz's behalf in the shooting, though he had confessed to police, according to a probable cause affidavit.

His defense team had long ago offered a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole -- but only if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors had rejected that, saying they were seeking the death penalty. That raised the prospect of a lengthy trial.

The impact of the February 2018 shooting was felt far beyond South Florida, as survivors and victims' relatives quickly spoke out and confronted lawmakers to plead for gun control reform. Other students in the US joined the cause, staging their own protests and school walkouts in the months after the massacre.

The-CNN-Wire
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