FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – For a second day, a Broward grand jury heard testimony behind closed doors against Nikolas Cruz, the confessed gunman who shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentine’s Day.
Wednesday afternoon they issued their indictment which included 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Among the witnesses who testified before the panel on Wednesday were James and Kimberly Snead.
The Sneads took Cruz in last November after his mother died. In interviews since the shooting, they’ve said that Cruz, 19, showed no warning signs that he was about to do harm to himself or others. They’ve also said the person who went to his former school and killed those people was not the man that they knew.
“There testimony is secret, I can’t tell you the content of their testimony, but I can say they were cooperative. The grand jury asked them inciteful questions and they answered them to the best of their ability,” said the Sneads’ lawyer Jim Lewis.
On Tuesday the grand jury heard testimony from six witnesses including the lead detective, crime scene analysts, and the Uber driver who drove Crus to the school’s campus that day.
Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder hours after the shooting, but before the case could move forward state prosecutors had to file formal charges.
Sophomore Justin Abonce was on the 3rd floor of the Freshman Building when shots rang out and students and teachers fell. After learning of the indictment against Cruz, he said Cruz needs to pay for what he’s accused of doing.
“After what he did, after what I had to see that he caused, it’s terrible and It’s gonna be with me for life,” Abonce said. “He should be getting the highest charges.”
As Cruz sits in jail we’re learning more about his life in lockup.We know that each day Broward Sheriff’s detention deputies take turns watching Cruz for their entire 8 hour shifts, making sure he doesn’t try to harm himself.
We know that Cruz is being separated from other inmates and we’re also learning more about his behavior. Reports from the Broward Sheriff’s Office show what deputies are writing about Cruz’s actions.
One wrote that Cruz appeared to be in “Deep thought” and that “During (an) attorney/doctor interview (Cruz was) very engaged, responsive (leaning forward in chair), nodding yes or no, talkative, aware…”
Another report said that Cruz was “Cooperative and complies with verbal orders” and that he “…very often sits with a blank stare…”
Another deputy wrote ”…Cruz appeared to break out in laughter both during and immediately following his professional visit…” And on another instance…“Appears to be coherent while speaking to his attorneys. Inmate was also observed smiling and giggling.”
Visitor logs from the jail show that Cruz’s brother has visited him twice since Cruz was arrested.
Cruz’s attorneys say his client is willing to plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table, according to the public defender’s office representing him.
State Attorney Michael J. Satz has said in the past that this “certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for” but a decision to seek it would only be made after consulting with all the victims’ families.
Later in the day, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel attended Wednesday’s regularly scheduled Parkland City Commission Meeting.
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky took the opportunity to discuss a rumor that Broward Sheriff’s deputies view duty in the small town as a retirement job.
“The police and deputy’s that are here realize that this is not a step to retirement,” Hunschofsky said. “That is the rumor going around.”
Sheriff Israel and his staffers assured the mayor and the people at the meeting that it was not the case.
Israel then met privately with concerned citizens about the school shooting.
CBS4 waited for Israel to give an update on what he discussed, but a deputy told CBS4’s Hank Tester that the sheriff apparently departed out of a side door after being “called out.”