Judge finds Nikolas Cruz competent to stand trial for Parkland shooting

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FORT LAUDERDALE (AP & WFXR) — Nikolas Cruz was in a Florida courtroom on Wednesday for a hearing in the 2018 school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Judge Scherer found Cruz competent to stand trial, after asking him if he understood his rights or was under the influence of any medication. Cruz denied being under the influence of any medicines, and stated that he understood what the judge was saying.

20-year-old Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted.

Cruz is accused of the 17 slayings and with wounding 17 others in the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.

His lawyers say Cruz will plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors want the case to go to trial so that a jury can decide.

Prosecutors pushed for a later court date, but Judge Scherer told them to pace themselves in anticipation of the proposed trial date.

A tentative hearing date is scheduled for early January 2020.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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