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Can Suspected School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Dodge The Death Penalty?

The suspected Parkland school shooter's lawyer said he'd plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty. 

By Gina Tron

Will Nikolas Cruz be able to dodge the death penalty?

The suspected school shooter behind the deadly shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this past Valentine’s Day made an appearance in court on Wednesday which the intention of doing just that.

Cruz “stood mute,” which means he is refusing to plead either innocent or guilty at this time. The suspected shooter’s defense lawyer Melisa McNeill asked for a deal, according to the Sun-Sentinel in Broward County.

“At any time Mr. Cruz is willing to enter a plea of guilty,” McNeill said, “in exchange for a waiver of the death sentence.”

If that exchange is made, Cruz would likely receive life in prison without the possibility of parole instead.

Just one day earlier, the prosecution announced that they will be seeking the death penalty for the 19-year-old. The accused killer kept his head bowed during his hearing. His brother Zachary was present and was crying as his sibling entered the courtroom, according to WPLG in Miami.

The father of one of the victims told that media outlet that he would prefer life in prison to the death penalty.

"Death by injection would be too easy in my eyes," Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack. She was a senior who perished at the school. "I'd rather him rot in prison the rest of his life. [...] If I was able to dictate the method of death, then I would be for the death penalty.”

During the hearing, the judge entered a plea of not guilty for Cruz, according to CNN. He faces 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.

The arraignment has taken place on the same day of a national student walkout for gun control in light of the shooting allegedly committed by Cruz.

[Photo: Broward County Jail]