‘Not guilty’ plea entered for Nikolas Cruz, who faces death penalty in school shooting

first_imgAmy Beth Bennett/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Nikolas Cruz was formally arraigned Wednesday on a 34-count indictment related to last month’s mass shooting at a South Florida high school, for which the 19-year-old is now facing the death penalty.Cruz was escorted into the Broward County courtroom in shackles, wearing a bright orange-red prison jumpsuit. He sat silent on the courtroom bench and kept his head bowed down throughout the hearing, as sheriff’s deputies stood guard behind him.Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered a “not guilty” plea on Cruz’s behalf, after his lawyers indicated he would stand mute, or refuse to plead either innocent or guilty. Defense attorney Melisa McNeill emphasized to the judge that Cruz remains willing “at any time” to plead guilty “in exchange for a waiver of the death sentence” and instead spend the rest of his life behind bars.Cruz allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, killing 17 people and injuring others. He was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School over disciplinary problems last year.The AR-15-style rifle allegedly used in the massacre was legally purchased by Cruz a year ago, authorities said.Last week, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office announced a grand jury indictment charging Cruz with 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder. He is being held without bond on all counts.The state attorney for Broward County, Michael Satz, announced Tuesday that he had filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the case against Cruz.Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, said the move didn’t come as a surprise, and he reiterated his client’s willingness to plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table and agree to a life sentence in prison instead.“It was not unexpected,” Finkelstein told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. “We still stand ready to immediately plead guilty to all counts — to 34 consecutive life sentences without parole.”Cruz is scheduled to appear again in court on April 27, three days before his trial begins.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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12-year-old girl arrested for DWI in New Mexico

first_imgFedorovekb/iStock(ALAMOGORDO, N.M.) — A 12-year-old girl has been arrested in New Mexico for drunk driving and leading officers on a high-speed chase before losing control of the steering and smashing into a speed limit sign, officials said this week.New Mexico’s Alamogordo Police Department said the 12-year-old was driving with her three friends, ages 12 and 13, in the car.Police said the girl told them that she waited for her grandfather, with whom she was staying at the time, to fall asleep so she could take his car.Bodycam footage released by police shows officers breaking into the vehicle to get the girl and her friends out after the pursuit.The driver was charged with DWI and her friends were also charged with underage drinking.It remains unclear how the girl and her friends got the alcohol, but cans of Twisted Tea, a malted alcoholic beverage, were recovered from the car, Alamogordo Police Chief Brian Peete told ABC News.“It’s concerning,” Peete said. “We are grateful that no one was seriously hurt. But it is concerning that someone so young would put themselves and others in harms way.”The names of the youths involved have not been released, due to their age.Peete told the Alamogordo Daily News that his department is working closely with the local school system as a part of a “comprehensive approach to disciplinary action.”“We’re using a coordinated effort to get to the bottom of this,” Peete told the newspaper.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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