Florida School Shooting Suspect Due Back in Court

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -
Messages, posted on a fence along a road in Florida, as students and parents attend an anti-firearms rally at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, February 25. (Reuters/Angel Valentin)

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is due back in court for a hearing designed to get the death-penalty case moving forward.

The hearing Friday afternoon is expected to deal with several procedural issues, possibly including the setting of an initial trial date.

Cruz’s public defender also is likely to ask to waive Florida’s speedy trial rule. The rule generally requires that a felony defendant go to trial within 175 days of arrest unless it’s waived.

The 19-year-old Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His lawyer says Cruz would plead guilty if guaranteed a sentence of life without parole, but prosecutors seek the death penalty.