Parkland shooter wants to donate inheritance to the victims' families
By now, we're all familiar with the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. On Valentine's Day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into his former high school with an AR-15 and opened fire. By the time police apprehended Cruz, he had killed 17 students and teachers. The nation mourned, and the surviving students started a movement, fiercely activating for stricter gun control laws, so such a massacre never happens again.
Cruz confessed to police that he was responsible for the shooting, and he has been formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces either a maximum sentence of life in prison, or death by execution. Public defender Howard Finkelstein said Cruz is willing to plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty. However, prosecuting attorney Shari Tate abruptly cut him off, saying "The state of Florida is not allowing Mr. Cruz to choose his own punishment for the murder of 17 people."
Today the Florida judge held a hearing to determine if the confessed killer had enough money to afford his own lawyers. Cruz' mother died in November 2017, leaving behind an inheritance and annuity. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports Cruz and his brother stand to receive $25,000 from her life insurance policy. And according to Finkelstein, their late mother's annuity could be worth up to $800,000.
However, public defender Melisa McNeill told the judge that Cruz would like to donate that money to the victims' families.
"Whatever money he is entitled to, he does not want that money. He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ family believes would be able to facilitate healing in our community or an opportunity to educate our community."
Cruz is currently defended by Broward Public Defender’s Office, who handles clients that cannot afford a lawyer. Aside from his mother's inheritance and annuity, he has very little cash. According to McNeil, all Cruz has to his name is $353 in checking and a possible claim to Microsoft stock purchased in 2003. The Sun-Sentinel reports that stock is worth $2,227.
Cruz' attorneys have not said which specific charities would receive the money. It is not known if the victims' families would accept his donation. It's possible Cruz is making this offer out of remorse, and it's possible he's making this gesture to get out of receiving the death penalty. Or maybe it's a little bit of both.
We'll have to wait and see what the judge decides. It certainly seems like all that money would be much better spent on the victims' families, or on helping the community, then on lawyers for a confessed mass murderer.
It's been two months since the Parkland shooting, but the effects of the massacre continue to ripple throughout America. Cruz awaits his trial, the surviving students have returned to school with mandatory clear backpacks, and the debate over gun control continues.
In related news, the Parkland shooter is receiving piles of fan mail from deluded admirers...