FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Broward County judge decided Thursday afternoon to delay the start of confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s murder trial.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer pushed the trial back to the summer of 2020. An official date will be set in March.
The trial was supposed to start in January.
Defense lawyers claim the case was moving far too rapidly and runs the risk of legal errors that would result in a reversal on appeal and trigger yet another high-profile trial.
In a court filing Wednesday, however, prosecutors “in an abundance of caution” said they would not object if the trial starts a few months later, in May.
Lori Alhadeff, mother of 14-year-old Parkland victim Alyssa Alhadeff, is not happy about the delay.
“It’s delaying our pain, it’s delaying justice and it’s very hurtful to me and my family,” she said.
Other parents, like Tony Montalto, have been preparing for this trial – preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
“We were looking forward to beginning the process of resolving the criminal case. We understand the issues involved and why the judge made her decision. However, that doesn’t mean we’re happy,” said Montalto, who lost her daughter, Gina Rose Montalto, in the shooting. “It seems that the alleged shooter is getting a lot of breaks that were not afforded to my daughter and the 16 other people that were murdered that day.”
Cruz, 21, faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Valentine’s Day 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He faces the death penalty if convicted, although his lawyers say he will plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence.
In their motion, defense lawyers noted that of 38 capital punishment cases in Broward County since 1994, the average time they remained pending between arrest and trial was 52 months or a little over four years.
Cruz was arrested on the same day of the mass shooting, Feb. 14, 2018.
The defense said there are at least 1,000 witnesses identified by prosecutors in the case, and each of them must be interviewed by Cruz’s lawyers. There are about 4 million pages of evidence, thousands of photos, videos, and social media posts and much more.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)