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Public defender withdraws from Parkland shooter over life insurance payment

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Public defender withdraws from Parkland shooter over life insurance payment
Nikolas Cruz is entitled to half of his mother's $864,000 life insurance policy. File Photo via Broward County Sheriff/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- Because confessed Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz is entitled to $430,000 from a life insurance policy, he no longer needs a public defender, South Florida attorneys say.

The Broward Public Defender's Office filed a notice late Wednesday with a request to withdraw from the case. Cruz's death penalty trial was set for next January but will now be delayed because of the request. Assistant public defender Gordon Weekes said, "We have to withdraw."

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Cruz is charged with numerous counts of murder in the Parkland high school attack that killed 17 people in February 2018. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Weekes said he'd been unaware of the insurance payment, and cannot represent Cruz because he's no longer indigent.

"My blood is boiling," Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the attack, posted on Facebook. "This will only cause more delay. I am furiously mad right now."

Cruz and his younger brother are entitled to a $864,929 policy from their mother, who died in November 2017.

It's possible Cruz might not see any of the money because victims' families won a judgment against him in civil court. Even if he did receive the entire amount, experts say it might not be enough.

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"That money goes pretty fast," attorney David Bogenschutz said about the cost of a defense in capital cases.

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