Admitted Parkland Shooter Nik Cruz Says 'Hatred' Personality Committed Act

Nikolas Cruz, the admitted shooter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, contends that he has multiple personalities and that it was the one known as "hatred" that murdered 17 people.

The defense may look to present a case during the penalty trial phase in which the mental health of Cruz was a factor, according to an attorney for the state of Florida, stating that Cruz believes he has multiple personalities, one of which actually committed the murders.

Nikolas Cruz
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown seated at the defense table as he is in court to plead guilty at the Broward County Courthouse on October 20, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz alleges that his personality "hatred" is the one that committed the 17 murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Amy Beth Bennett-Pool/Getty Images

"The defendant is referring to another personality as 'hatred' and he's the one who committed these crimes so that obviously could be a multi-personality defense."

Following Cruz's guilty plea in October, the case now enters the penalty trial phase, which is set to begin in April. On Thursday, during a pre-penalty hearing in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, courtroom, attorneys for the state and the defense argued over the number of expert witnesses allowed to testify in front of the jury who will decide Cruz's sentence. Prior to Thursday's hearing the defense showed that they planned to bring in several expert witnesses to cover a number of mental health topics in hopes of using Cruz's mental health as a factor in arguing for a lesser sentence, according to news station WPLG Local 10.

The defense alleged that the state, citing a Florida rule, should only be allowed to call one expert witness to cover the entire gambit of mental health issues, while the defense was seeking to call one for nearly every mental health field. Prosecutors retorted that that was a ridiculous demand, saying they would need a similar number because having one expert trying to determine all of those diagnoses given the number of experts the defense was hoping to use would be impossible.

The prosecutor said the defense was hoping to call 14 different expert witnesses during the penalty phase.

The judge in Thursday's hearing denied the defense's motion to limit the state to just one expert witness. Instead, the judge made a request of both the defense and prosecutors.

"Make a list of the medical fields and then I will determine which fields are specific enough that warrant expert," the judge said.

After both the state and the defense submit their requests, the judge will then issue a formal order with the number of experts for both sides to consider.

In addition to hearing from expert witnesses and other witnesses, the jury will also see evidence, including Cruz's Instagram account, that would have been used during a trial to determine Cruz's guilt or innocence had he not plead guilty. The 12 members of the jury will decide whether Cruz gets the death penalty or life in prison.

The penalty phase in the case is slated to begin February 21 but last week the judge pushed it back to April, according to The Palm Beach Post. In December, the judge delayed the penalty phase a first time, from January 4 to February 21.

In October 2021, Cruz plead guilty to 17 charges of murder and an additional 17 charges of attempted murder in connection to the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, according to WPLG Local 10.

Newsweek reached out to the assistant state attorney for Florida's 17th Judicial Circuit but did not hear back before publication.