Florida school shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of murder

Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty if he is convicted of Parkland massacre

Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, on February 19th. Photograph: Mike Stocker/Pool/Reuters

Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, on February 19th. Photograph: Mike Stocker/Pool/Reuters

 

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has been formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder.

The charges could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

On Wednesday, a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale returned the indictment against the 19-year-old in relation to the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and 16 were wounded.

The indictment also charges Cruz with 17 counts of attempted murder.

Cruz’s public defender has said his client will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table.

The Broward County state attorney has not yet announced a decision on the death penalty.

The couple who provided a home to Cruz before the massacre had earlier given evidence before the grand jury.

James and Kimberly Snead each spent about half an hour on Wednesday giving closed-door evidence before the panel.

The Sneads took in Cruz after he lived briefly with a family friend following the death of his mother in November. – AP