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September 2019 Trial Date Set For Confessed Parkland Shooter

Nikolas Cruz, the confessed gunman in the Parkland school massacre, appeared in Broward Court on Monday. Judge Elizabeth Scherer set a tentative trial date for September of 2019.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Broward Judge Elizabeth Scherer set a tentative trial timeline Monday afternoon for the confessed gunman in the Parkland school massacre.

The court's goal is to start Nikolas Cruz' s trial in September of 2019.

"This case needs to move along so that everyone's rights are preserved, but in a timely manner," Scherer said.

Cruz appeared in the Broward County courtroom between two of his attorneys, with his head resting on a table for most of the proceedings. His hair has been cut since his last hearing, and he appears to have gained weight. Cruz’s brother Zachary was also present at the hearing.

Though Zachary Cruz has lived in Virginia since May, he has often returned to Broward to attend his brother's hearings.

During the two-hour preceding, Judge Scherer also deferred making a decision on whether to make the taped confession Cruz gave to police on Feb. 14, public. If she decides to let the confession become public, she will give the defense a 10-day notice.

The Broward Public Defender's Office, who is representing Cruz, believes the taped confessions would ruin Cruz’s right to a fair trial.

"Just so the records clear, we believe that...if the release of that report is granted, that could have a detrimental effect on Mr.Cruz’s constitutional rights to a fair trial before this court, the criminal court."

The tentative trial date was met with resistance from Cruz' s defense team.

"I don’t think a year is realistic," lawyer Melisa McNeill said.

McNeil also said the public defender's office has not yet received the report of Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective John Curcio, who is leading the investigation. Without it, she said, the attorneys representing Cruz cannot begin questioning witnesses.

The State Attorney's Office said it believes Curcio’s report is "still being prepared" five months after the shooting on Feb. 14.

Judge Scherer issued an order requiring Curcio to complete and submit his report by this Friday.

"Detective Curcio needs to make this a priority," the judge said.

The next status hearing is set for Aug. 15, where Judge Scherer plans to set a schedule for both the state and the defense to present their discoverings.

"This is not going to be pending forever," Scherer said.

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Riane Roldan is a Miami native and a rising senior at Emerson College in Boston, where she is the news editor at the student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon.
Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.