The Florida school shooter appeared in court On Wednesday, where he is facing the death penalty for murdering 17 people in the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Sherer entered a “not guilty” plea for Nikolas Cruz, 19, after his defense attorney said he would “stand mute,” or not enter a plea for himself in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack.
Cruz wore an orange jumpsuit and was shackled during the appearance. He did not speak and kept his head down during the proceedings.
Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz filed a formal notice that they were seeking the death penalty against Cruz for the killings.
His attorney said that he was willing to plead guilty to the charges if the death penalty was not pursued.
Cruz’ finances were also discussed in court. He currently is being represented by a court-appointed attorney, who noted that he was entitled to half of his late mother’s $50,000 life insurance policy. He also had $12,000 in his mother’s bank account, but he did not have access to the funds, the attorney claimed.
A hearing to discuss his financial situation was scheduled for April.
One of the Parkland victim’s father spoke out against giving Cruz the death penalty.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie Guttenberg died in the shooting, was angry the state decided to pursue the death penalty, noting how tortuously long capital punishment cases last.
"This guy's is willing to plea and spend the rest of his life in the general population,” Guttenberg said. “Let him do that and let them do what they want with him. Why not take the plea and let the guy rot in hell?"
Cruz’ attorney said his client was “immediately ready” to plead guilty and receive the 34 consecutive life sentences.
"We are not saying he is not guilty, but we can't plead guilty while death is still on the table," Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said in an email to CBS News.
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