FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward State Attorney’s Office has challenged the Office of Public Defenders request to withdraw from representing confessed Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz’s public defenders filed a motion to withdraw after it was learned that he was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and was entitled to half of the nearly 865-thousand dollar death benefit after his mother Lynda’s death.
In the motion, prosecutors say the public defender cannot withdraw simply because the defendant has an entitlement to a benefit and is no longer indigent.
They said there are proper procedures for a withdrawal which must take into consideration assets, liabilities, and probable expenses.
The state also writes that while Cruz may be entitled to the money, he may not be able to access it or may go toward liens by the victims or families of victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed.
The state’s motion points out that there are currently five civil cases pending against Cruz where damages are being sought.
The estate of Lynda Cruz is named in four of the lawsuits. There are also three separate claims against her estate, two by families of victims and one by a survivor. They say these should be factored into whether Cruz is no longer indigent.
The State’s Attorney’s Office also points out that after being on the case for a year, the public defenders’ withdrawal would cause an “unnecessary delay.”
They say victims of crimes have the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, “and to a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.”
It will now be up to Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer to decide if Cruz’s public defenders will stay or go.