Prosecutors Will Seek the Death Penalty for the Accused Florida High School Shooter

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Florida prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the 19-year-old man accused of carrying out a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, the New York Times reports.

The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. In court documents filed on Tuesday, Broward County's chief prosecutor, Michael Satz, noted that seven factors made Cruz eligible for capital punishment, including the fact he "knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons" and that the crime was "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel."

Cruz is the only suspect from the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern American history to be apprehended alive, and his defense attorneys had previously said that he would plead guilty in exchange for life without parole. Rather than contesting his guilt, now they will focus on mitigating circumstances that might convince at least one juror not to hand down an execution, according to the Times.

Up until last year, Florida was one of three states that allowed judges to impose the death penalty based on a non-unanimous jury recommendation for death. Lawmakers passed new legislation requiring a unanimous jury in March of 2017.

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