Parkland School Shooting: Nikolas Cruz to Face Death Penalty If Convicted

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Prosecutors in Florida have announced that they will seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of spraying a Florida high school with gunfire last month, leaving 17 people dead.

Cruz, 19, was previously indicted on 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder by a Broward County grand jury.

Prosecutors said they chose to seek the highest form of punishment due to a number of factors.

“The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification," the formal notice filed by prosecutors said.

The notice added that Cruz knowingly created a risk of death for many people and the shooting was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

Cruz’s attorney, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, had previously announced the teen was willing to plead guilty if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

"This is an opportunity to put the criminal case behind and help the victims' families begin to try and pick up pieces of their lives for our community to heal and to figure out how we stop these things from ever happening again," Finkelstein said last month.

Authorities have not released a motive in the shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where three faculty members and 14 students were killed on Valentine’s Day. 

The teen confessed to being the gunman after the crime, according to court records.

Cruz’s attorneys have pointed to mental illness as a factor, saying that the teen battled depression after the death of his adoptive mother.

The only other penalty option for Cruz is life in prison without the possibility of parole. The announcement doesn't negate the ability for a plea deal to be reached.

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