Parkland Shooting Trial Live Updates: David Hogg Calls For Gun Control Legislation Following Cruz Guilty Plea

Live Updates

Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of first-degree murder and all 17 counts of attempted murder at the Parkland school shooting trial Wednesday in a bid to avoid the death penalty.

The 23-year-old appeared before Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who asked him how he pleads to each killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida, and to the counts of attempted first-degree murder for those who were wounded in the 2018 massacre.

Cruz's attorneys strongly hinted last week that he will plead guilty to all charges in a bid to avoid being executed - something the parents of several victims have called for ahead of the trial.

In a statement to the victims' families who packed the courtroom, Cruz said he was "very sorry" for what he did even though he knows they won't believe him.

"I have to deal with this every day," he said, adding that he can't live with himself sometimes.

Cruz also said he believes the victims' families should decide whether he lives or dies but understands that legally his sentence is up to a jury.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Tent, mobile command set up at reserve

A WFLA news chopper saw a tent set up at the reserve. Another mobile command center has arrived, according to News Nation Now reporter Brian Entin.

Another mobile command center has shown up.

— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) October 20, 2021

David Hogg says there is "no closure" after Cruz plea

Parkland shooting survivor and March For Our Lives founder David Hogg shared his thoughts on Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea.

He told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that "there is ultimately no closure, our students and teachers are still gone."

He said real closure will come when we "create a country where our children don't live in danger of gun violence every day on the way to school or in their schools."

While he wants to leave the conversation about sentencing for Cruz to the parents of the victims, he said his goal moving forward is to continue to push for gun control legislation.

"It's time for those [elected officials] to do their job, as we've given them the chance through voting, or it is time for them to move aside and let a new generation come in," he said.

One day we will end gun violence in this country and stories of school shootings/every day gun violence will be left in our history books- not our headlines.

That day will come when Americans of all parties and generations unite for peace- for our right to not be shot.

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) October 20, 2021

Parkland survivor says he forgives Cruz

Parkland shooting victim Anthony Borges said he accepts Nikolas Cruz's apology.

In regards to Cruz's sentencing, Borges said it was not up to him.

"I'm not God. That's not my decision. My decision is to be a better person and to change the world. I don't want this to happen again. It hurts, it hurts, it really hurts."

Borges' attorney Alex Arreaza said his client has forgiven Cruz and wants to move on. Borges' mission is to make sure another school shooting never happens again.

Borges was shot five times and helped save other lives by keeping a classroom door closed. He went through nine surgeries and Arreaza said his medical bills are up to $1 million.

Jury selection scheduled for Jan 4 2022

Judge Elizabeth Sherer told the attorneys to return to court on October 26 for a scheduling conference.

She said jury selection for the penalty trial phase will begin on January 4, 2022.

A penalty trial will determine if Cruz will receive a death sentence or life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to 34 counts of murder and attempted murder Wednesday.

Judge sentences Cruz to 26 years in prison for battery charges

Judge Sherer sentenced Nikolas Cruz to 26 years for the four felony battery charges he plead guilty to last week after an attack on a jail guard nine months after his arrest.

This was unrelated to the Parkland shooting case.

Cruz tells victims' families he is sorry, says he "can't live with" himself

Nikolas Cruz made a statement to the victims' families.

"I am very sorry for what I did," he said. As families shake their heads, Cruz adds "I know you don't believe me."

"I have to deal with this every day," he said. "If I was given a second chance I would do everything I can to help others."

He said he has nightmares and "can't live with myself sometimes."

Cruz also talked about drugs, saying he believes "this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs."

Cruz added that he believes the victims' families should decide his fate.

"I believe it is your decision if I live or die not the jury's decision," he said.

His lawyer clarified for the judge that Cruz understands it is legally up to the jury to decide his sentence.

Prosecution retells Cruz's actions during shooting

Broward State Attorney Michael Satz said the state would be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt why Cruz would be guilty on all 34 charges.

He lists surveillance video, witness reports and DNA as some of the evidence against him.

Satz is now going step-by-step through Cruz's actions during the shooting on February 14, 2018.

He is listing each victim who was shot and whether they were killed or wounded.

Local reporters in the courtroom say families of victims are emotional as Satz speaks.

Cruz pleads guilty to all 34 counts

Nikolas Cruz has formally pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

The judge accepts Cruz's guilty plea.

Judge reads each count of first-degree, attempted murder

The judge read through each count of first-degree and attempted murder, naming the victims. Cruz is pleading guilty to each count.

Guilty plea will waive Cruz's right to guilt phase of trail

The first 17 charges are capital charges and the minimum penalty of life in prison and at maximum a death sentence. He said he understands.

Judge Sherer read through the names of the victims from the attempted murder charges, asking if Cruz understands each charge has a minimum of 20 to 25 years mandatory minimum prison sentences. Each time he says he understands.

He said he understands he is waiving his right to the "guilt phase" of the trial and that the next step would be the penalty phase.

A guilty plea will also waive Cruz's right to appeal to a higher court. Cruz also said he understands that he is "stuck with" his decision and cannot change his plea.

The prosecutor asked to note that each count of murder and attempted murder can be used as an aggravating factor to argue for the death penalty. Cruz said he understands this.

Cruz asks judge if he can speak to the victims and families in court

Cruz asked the judge if he can make a statement to the victims' families.

Local reporters in the courtroom said family members of victims were shaking their heads, audibly sighing and shedding tears.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said it was not the moment for that and it is unclear if he will get the opportunity to address the victims and their families.

Cruz says he was feeling anxious during hearing

During the initial questioning from Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to assess the defendant's mental state, Nikolas Cruz said he was feeling "a little anxiety" after previously revelaing he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Judge Scherer said feeling nervous was "normal under the circumstances."

Cruz said he was not having trouble concentrating and the anxiety was not inhibiting his ability to understand the situation or listen to the judge and his attorneys.

#NikolasCruz tells the judge he's having some anxiety today but he's able to concentrate and follow along. @LawCrimeNetwork

— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) October 20, 2021

Parkland survivors and victims' families pack the courtroom

A Parkland shooting survivor is attending today's hearing at the Broward County Courthouse.

Anthony Borges, 18, told reporters he was "feeling kind of nervous" but he was there because he wants to "let go all the bad things."

Anthony Borges, 18-year-old survivor of #Parkland school shooting explains why he wanted to attend today’s court proceeding at the Broward County Courthouse where the accused gunman is expected to plead guilty. @wpbf_angela @WPBF25News

— angelarozier (@wpbf_angela) October 20, 2021

According to local news reports, families of shooting victims are also present in court. WPTV reporter Michelle Quesada said the courtroom is "relatively quiet" except for the "sniffling under masks as an emotional day lies ahead."

Cruz's attorneys hope guilty plea will avoid a death sentence

At today's hearing, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will ask Nikolas Cruz a series of questions to determine his mental capacity. Then she will ask him one by one how he pleads to each of the 17 killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to the 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for those who were wounded.

After the hearing Wednesday, where Cruz is expected to plead guilty, there will be a penalty trial in which 12 jurors will determine whether Cruz should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

Judge Scherer will screen thousands of prospective jurors in hearings expected to last throughout November and December, according to the Associated Press. The goal is to begin testimony in January.

Cruz's attorneys hope to avoid a death sentence and will argue at the penalty hearing that Cruz took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.

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