Death penalty to be sought for Nikolas Cruz

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Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Satz, the Broward county prosecutor, is said to be convinced that the prosecution can show that Cruz's murders meet the standard for the death penalty.

The state of Florida will seek the death penalty against accused Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nicholas Cruz, according to court documents.

Satz, the state attorney for Broward County, made his decision public less than a month after the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and one day before students nationwide were expected to stage walkouts to demand new gun-control measures.

But the State Attorney's Office wouldn't take capital punishment off the table, listing seven "aggravating factors" that a jury can use to justify ordering Cruz's execution for the February 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Nineteen-year-old Cruz is scheduled for formal arraignment on Wednesday on a 34 count indictment, including 17 first degree murder charges.

Cruz is set to be formally arraigned on Wednesday. Lawyers for Mr. Cruz, who have repeatedly said that he would plead guilty in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole, are not expected to contest his guilt at what is certain to be an agonizing and emotional trial.

It was unclear whether Cruz would be present, a spokesman for the court told AFP.

Cruz now "stands mute" before the charges, having withdrawn a written "not guilty" plea after being indicted by the grand jury.

Standing mute has the same legal effect as pleading not guilty, but in Cruz's case could be part of a legal strategy as his attorneys prepare for the death-penalty trial.

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