FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – Attorneys for confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman Nikolas Cruz asked Judge Elizabeth Scherer during a hearing Thursday for permission to question his former mental health counselors without prosecutors present.

The counselors treated Cruz before the February 14th, 2018 massacre that left 17 dead.

The attorneys wanted to question them informally, but their employer said they would only comply if subpoenaed. That would require prosecutors’ attendance. Cruz’s attorneys say that would hinder their ability to prepare his defense.

Prosecutors say there is no exception to the rule allowing their attendance.

Judge Scherer said she would consider their arguments and issue a ruling.

The 20-year-old defendant has offered to plead guilty for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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