A Florida judge on Wednesday entered a not-guilty plea for Nikolas Cruz, who is charged with shooting to death 17 students and staff last month in a massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Cruz, 19, chose to remain mute during the arraignment hearing in Broward County circuit court. Judge Elizabeth Scherer then entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf for 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder and set an April 30 trial date.
Cruz, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and shackled at wrists and ankles, sat alone and head bowed in what is normally the jury box, guarded by a dozen deputies.
State prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty in the case. Cruz’s attorneys had said the teenager would plead guilty if prosecutors took away the death penalty option.
Cruz’s arraignment came several hours after students at the Parkland high school joined thousands of other high school students from around the United States in a walkout backing gun control legislation.
Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Richard Chang and James Dalgleish