- The suspect in last week’s shooting at a Florida high school has said he has an $US800,000 ($AU1.02 million) trust fund, the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.
- Nikolas Cruz, 19, told a family he was living with that he set to receive the money after turning 22. But a judge will determine whether he can access the money now to hire a defence attorney, the Herald report says.
- Cruz’s court proceedings could become expensive if prosecutors pursue the death penalty, and his hiring an attorney rather than using a public defender could let Broward County taxpayers off the hook.
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect in last week’s shooting at a Florida high school, appears set to inherit what he has said is $US800,000 ($AU1.02 million) that would be used to hire an attorney.
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.
Though Cruz filled out paperwork after his arrest saying he was too poor to afford a lawyer, his public defenders asked a judge on Tuesday to determine whether Cruz needs them or whether he can pay for a defence attorney, the Miami Herald reported.
Cruz told a family he was living with that he was barred from receiving $US800,000 until he turned 22, the Herald report says. But Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer could order Cruz to use it to hire a private attorney, leaving taxpayers off the hook for what could become an expensive case, especially if prosecutors seek the death penalty.
Cruz’s public defenders could also charge him for reimbursement whenever he “comes into money,” even if the case is over, Scott Silverman, a retired Miami-Dade circuit judge, told the Herald.
Both of Cruz’s adoptive parents have died: Lynda Cruz of respiratory illness late last year, and Roger Cruz of heart failure in 2004.
Lynda Cruz in 2008 settled a medical malpractice suit against a doctor and a clinic over her husband’s medical treatment before his death, the Herald reported. A court-appointed attorney recommended the couple’s two adoptive children, Nikolas Cruz and his brother, Zachary Cruz, receive $US175,000 to be kept in a trust fund until adulthood, the report says.
Lynda Cruz also sold her Parkland home last year for $US575,000, the Herald reported, citing Broward County property records.
The family Nikolas Cruz stayed with after his mother’s death, Kimberly and James Snead, have said he told them he had an $US800,000 inheritance. They told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel they recently saw paperwork that they believe shows he was set to be financially comfortable.
“The kid was not hurting for money at any point,” Jim Lewis, the Sneads’ attorney, told the Herald. “Everyone knows about it. The question is if it’s available now.”
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