School shooter Nikolas Cruz could face the death penalty after pleading guilty to the killings of 14 students and 3 teachers at a Florida high school in 2018.
Cruz pleaded guilty to all 17 killings and 17 more attempted murders of those who survived the appalling assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Florida authorities are seeking the death penalty.
Then 19, Cruz waltzed into the school with a legally bought semiautomatic weapon and killed 17 people on Valentines’ Day 2018.
Parkland survivors and other schoolkids set up a nationwide movement to rid America of school shootings.
Judge Elizabeth Scherer read the victim’s names one by one as he repeated “guilty” after every one.
Cruz’s guilty plea will help him in his effort to avoid the death penalty.
But the scars of the Parkland killings are still so raw, and many Floridians hope he does face the harshest punishment doled out by America’s justice system.
From the beginning of the trial three years ago, Cruz’s lawyer said he would plead guilty in order to seek life imprisonment – rather than death.
State attorney Michael J Satz said he will be pursuing the death penalty.
Legal experts believe a guilty plea can help avoid that fate.
Ex-US attorney William N Nettles told the New York Times pleading not guilty when the verdict is so clear can offend jurors.
He said: “In cases like that, it’s often the best course of action to decline to fight a losing battle and instead fight a battle that you might win – and that’s the sentencing battle.”
Cruz told the court he was truly sorry for the shootings.
He addressed the judge and said: “I am very sorry for what I did and have to live with it every day.
“If I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to help others.”
The new charges add to Cruz’s legal problems after he attacked a prison guard.
Cruz was given a 26-year sentence last week for attacking a jailhouse guard nine months after the school shooting.
That ruling could be an “aggravating factor” behind giving Cruz the death penalty, he acknowledged in court on Friday.