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Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to 2018 Parkland school massacre

Nikolas Cruz has pleaded guilty to murder in the 2018 high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

Cruz, 23, entered his pleas in a courtroom hearing attended by a dozen relatives of victims, after answering a long list of questions from Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer aimed at confirming his mental competency. He was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for those wounded in the February 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, located just outside Fort Lauderdale.

A penalty trial will determine whether Cruz will receive a sentence of death or life in prison without parole. Scherer plans to begin screening jurors next month in hopes testimony can begin in January.

As several parents shook their heads, Cruz apologized, saying, “I’m very sorry for what I did… I can’t live with myself sometimes.” He also added that he wished it was up to the survivors to determine whether he lived or died.

Several parents and other relatives of victims broke down in tears while listening to the court proceedings via a Zoom call.

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz sits at the defense table with defense attorney David Wheeler before pleading guilty, October 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

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