Florida school shooting defendant due back in court

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The defendant charged with killing 17 people in last year’s Florida school shooting is due back in court.

A status hearing is scheduled Tuesday for 20-year-old Nikolas Cruz in the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz could get the death penalty if convicted.

The hearing will likely focus on issues of evidence and preparation for a trial expected to start early next year.

Cruz’s attorneys have said he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors have refused that offer.

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The presiding judge recently ordered that the Broward County public defender’s office must continue to represent Cruz for now even though he could get an estimated $432,000 payout before taxes from his late mother’s annuity.

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