MIAMI (CBSMiami) – “I am guilty,” said self-confessed Parkland Massacre shooter Nikolas Cruz in front of Broward Judge Elizabeth Scherer.
She accepted a guilty plea on four felony charges for attacking a jail guard and he will plead guilty next week in the deadly school shooting, according to his attorney.READ MORE: Battery Trial Hearing For Nikolas Cruz Focuses On Jury Instructions
Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student plead guilty on Friday to assault and battery on a law enforcement officer after deputies say he attacked BSO Detention Sgt. Raymond Beltran back in November 2018.
He answered the judge’s question about his competency in a steady voice and said he understood that prosecutors can use the conviction as an aggravating factor when they later argue for his execution.
Watch: Expert on what is next for Cruz
The jail brawl incident took place nine months after the Parkland shooting. Video from the jail shows Cruz walking around tables in a common area. He exchanged words with Beltran who told him “not drag his sandals around while in a jail dayroom,” according to the police report.
Cruz then reportedly flipped him off Beltran before rushing at him, tackling him to the ground. Beltran was able to flip him over. They two then struggled over Beltran’s stun gun which went off but didn’t strike anyone. Cruz then slipped from Beltran’s grasp and allegedly punched him. Beltran then punched Cruz in the face, knocking him to the ground.READ MORE: Nikolas Cruz Jail House Battery Trial Could Have Implications For His Parkland Massacre Trial
During Friday’s hering, Cruz’s attorney also told Judge Scherer that Cruz plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that killed 17 students and staff and left 17 others injured.He faces 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
“We’re asking the court to impose sentence on Wednesday on counts 18-24 in the parkland case to 17 consecutive life sentences,” his attorney David Wheeler told the judge.
Judge Scherer noted Cruz, now 23, could change his mind before his plea hearing, which she agreed to set for Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Cruz’s lawyers have repeatedly offered to plead guilty in return for a guaranteed sentence of life in prison, but prosecutors have refused to drop their pursuit of the death penalty. A guilty plea would both avoid a traumatic, lengthy trial and still allow a jury to decide Cruz’s fate.
Attorney Mark Eiglarsh, who’s not affiliated with the case figures since the death penalty has not been removed from the table after all this time, Cruz and his attorneys changed course. “Plan B is, we’re likely not going to win either of the two trials to at least get the benefit of a guilty plea and be able to tell the jurors in the penalty phase, ‘he plead guilty. He took that away from you guys. We didn’t need to spend months on a trial a no put the families through what would be a hell having to relive all this. Please consider that in your decision,” he said.
Much of the penalty phase would likely focus on Cruz’s mental condition at the time of the slayings, with prosecutors emphasizing their horrific nature and Cruz’s intensive planning beforehand.
Cruz will be sentenced on the jail battery case on Wednesday. He faces up to 15 years in prison for that. Also Wednesday, he’s expected to plead guilty to the Parkland Massacre.