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Lawyers prepare for Parkland school shooting trial

Nikolas Cruz
FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2018 file photo, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz listens during a status check on his case at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said at a hearing Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, that she won’t delay Cruz’s trial, expected to start Jan. 27 with jury selection. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

A Broward judge makes it official and tells lawyers to prepare for a September start date for the Parkland school shooting trial in which the alleged mass murderer will face the death penalty.

Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz offered a guilty plea if the death penalty was taken off the table. The state declined.

Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer told lawyers Thursday that she expects the trial for the confessed Parkland school shooter to begin in September, but did not set a specific start date.

The long-awaited trial has been postponed due to the pandemic, but at Thursday’s hearing, the judge notified attorneys that the courthouse will ready by then to accommodate the trial.

“That gives plenty of time to accomplish everything we need and, if it doesn’t, we can address it at that time, “Scherer said. “But I want you all to look toward September as our goal as far as starting jury selection and pretrial motions”

The trial was supposed to start last year but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cruz, 22, did not attend the hearing.

He has confessed to fatally shooting 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day in 2018

If convicted, Cruz faces the death penalty.