The 19-year-old Florida high school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is to wear a black suicide prevention vest in protective jail custody.
This was disclosed by one of the team of attorneys hired to defend the juvenile murderer in court. Cruz wore orange jail scrubs when he appeared in court a few days back at a public hearing. But he will be required to wear a suicide prevention vest made of very tough nylon material and impossible to fashion into a suicide aid in jail.
Cruz is facing 17 counts of murder after fatally shooting several students at a Florida community high school. According to prosecutors at the Broward Public Defender’s Office, the teenager may face the death penalty when he is formally charged. State prosecutors will however continue to meet over the coming weeks to determine if the school schooter ought to face execution.
Attorneys Say Cruz is suffering from Autism and Emotional Trauma
Currently jailed in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Cruz met with state prosecutors from the Office of the Broward Public Defender some days back. Attorneys who will be representing him also met with him at the jail to determine how to progress on his case. Lead attorney is Melisa McNeill, a veteran defense attorney with decades of experience representing juvenile offenders.
Cruz’s defense team has not obtained his school and medical records yet. But McNeill said there are signs the teenager suffers from some level of autism and other mental health issues. Family sources say Cruz is a child adopted at birth. His father died of heart attack in 2004, and his mother’s death from pneumonia in 2017 devastated him beyond all restraints.
Attorneys Say They Emphatize with the Grieving Community over Cruz’s Crimes
“He was trying to get her to go get that illness checked out but it moved very quickly and she passed away quite suddenly,” his attorneys said. “He was just lost after that. He was sad, he was discouraged. He was in significant emotional crisis, was dealing with significant trauma and was in considerable despair – all exacerbated by his mom’s death.”
Cruz’s attorneys said they are not comfortable representing him in court, given the extent of his crime. But they have a job to do and they must do it professionally. However, they are burdened by what the parents of victims and survivors of the killer’s are currently going through.
“Could you just make sure the community understands, from the defence’s standpoint, we understand the level of mourning that is going on in the community and we join in that mourning,” they said. “We are parents. Our kids attend schools in this community as well. We know what those parents are going through. Actually, we can never know exactly what they are going through, but we can appreciate and empathise with their grief.”