Prosecutor seeks death for Florida gunman

Prosecutor seeks death for Florida gunman

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's attorneys have said he would plead guilty if the death penalty was not pursued in the shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Defense attorney Howard Finkelstein has offered to have Cruz serve a sentence of life in exchange for guilty plea to 34 grand jury charges, which includes 17 counts of first-degree murder.

The only other penalty option for Cruz is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, 92 convicts have been executed in the state; only three were convicted in Broward County. While they continue to acknowledge that he carried out the rampage, they cannot plead guilty while Cruz could be sentenced to death, Finkelstein said Tuesday.

In its filing, the prosecution said that, among the aggravating factors spurring its decision, were that Cruz knowingly created a risk of death for many people, his crime was aimed at hindering "any government function or the enforcement of laws" and that the shooting was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel".

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Cruz now "stands mute" before the charges, having withdrawn a written "not guilty" plea after being indicted by the grand jury. "If we are not allowed to do so tomorrow, we will stand mute to the charges".

Meanwhile, a student who is credited with saving the lives of 20 students by attempting to close and lock a classroom door during the attack was improving at a hospital.

A 15-year-old student is improving after falling critically ill from an intestinal infection weeks after being shot five times at his Florida school shooting.

The family's attorney says that after surgeries, his intestinal area has been sealed off. Alex Arreaza says the student is breathing on his own after being taken off a ventilator.

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