Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz appeared in court again on Monday for a status hearing.
The 19-year-old faces 17 counts of premeditated murder, after last Wednesday’s attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland — the deadliest shooting at a high school in US history.
After Cruz’s first court appearance last Friday, where he largely kept silent, the suspect’s public defender described him as remorseful of the incidents.
“When you have the lack of impulse control that a 19-year-old has, that affects the behavior that you exhibit. That’s the child that I’m sitting across from,” said Melissa McNeill, public defender. “He’s sad, he’s mournful, he’s remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on and he’s just a broken human being.”
With officials presenting overwhelming evidence against Cruz — including a confession from Cruz himself — many are wondering what penalty Cruz could face, the death penalty included.
According the public defender’s office representing Cruz, there were multiple warning signs that Cruz presented that the death penalty could be going too far.
Some lawyers say the penalty phase of Cruz’s face will factor in his mental condition as well as his family situation.
For these Fil-Am Florida residents, those factors played a large role in Cruz’s alleged actions. They say parents should be more vigilant in watching their children.
“The shooting is of course, is a result of a lost child if you asked me, and as every parent. I feel that they have a responsibility for bringing their children up the right way,” said Jaime Mendoza. “Kids can get their hands on everything right now if they wanted to.”
“The more na lumalaki ang anak mo, nagiging wide din ang horizon nila ba. They tend to experiment. Something like that, and that’s the…Kung walang mag-ga-guide sa kanila,” said Juliet Camacho. “Then they go with they peers….”
Camacho, whose children are also in school, says she can’t help but worry for their safety. She says that schools should play a larger role in monitoring the mental health of children.
“Kagaya nyang may mental, mental illness. Hindi mo basta basta maano yung record nila. The schools knows about that… for that kid, alam nila yun! But then, what did they do, they just expel the kid.”
As the Florida community continues to heal, they also await the sentencing of the school shooting suspect.
Cruz’s defense attorney has said she will seek a plea deal in the case, where Cruz would plead guilty to the charges if officials do not seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors say it is too early to say whether or not they will offer Cruz any type of plea deal.