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Watch: Nikolas Cruz Defense Argues State Botched Notice of Intent to Seek Death Penalty


Nikolas Cruz, 21, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in a Broward County court on Friday. This is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. You can watch in the player above.

He’s the gunman who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people, prosecutors said. Cruz is also charged with 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. The defendant admitted to the crime on camera. His attorneys haven’t disputed the official account, but they’re trying to save him from execution. The trial is currently scheduled to begin January 27, 2020.

The long and short of it is that the defense argued the prosecution botched the notice of intent to seek the death penalty. They argued the state presented a “laundry list” of aggravating factors, but authorities didn’t specify which ones applied to which charges.

“Allowing the State to proceed on its notice of intent to seek the death penalty, which does not actually notify the defense of which aggravators the state intends to prove and believes it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, will result in the defense having no opportunity to meaningfully challenge said evidence through either effective cross-examination or presentation of contrary evidence,” said the defense in a filing obtained by Law&Crime.

Earlier in the motion, they attempted to construe the notice as absurdly written.

“The State cannot possibly believe it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, for example, that the 14 student victims of the charged capital felonies were ‘elected or appointed public official engaged in the performance of his official duties,” or, that each charged capital felony was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel,” said the defense.

Cruz’s attorneys argued that the prosecution, therefore, missed the deadline to file a complaint notice of intent. It should’ve happened within 45 days after the defendant’s arraignment. That hearing happened March 14, 2018.

“The notice provisions are a policy feature of Florida’s death penalty scheme in the same way that the jury weighing of aggravating and mitigating circumstances is a policy feature,” they wrote. “Preventing the State from seeking the death penalty is the only appropriate remedy for late, non-existent or non-compliant death notices.”

17 people died at the shooting: 14-year-old student Alyssa Alhadeff, 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel, 14-year-old student Martin Duque Anguiano, 17-year-old student Nicholas Dworet, 37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 14-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, 49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon, 15-year-old student Luke Hoyer, 14-year-old student Cara Loughran, 14-year-old student Gina Montalto, 17-year-old student Joaquin Oliver, 14-year-old student Alaina Petty, 18-year-old student Meadow Pollack, 17-year-old student Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old student Alexander Schachter, 16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup, and 15-year-old student Peter Wang.

[Screengrab via Broward County Sheriff’s Office]

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