Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people in last month’s shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school.
Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz announced his decision in a court filing HuffPost obtained on Tuesday.
The decision came nearly a week after a grand jury indicted Cruz on 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder for the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Satz argued that the death penalty was warranted because Cruz “knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons” and committed a crime in a “cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification,” and because the crime “was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel,” according to a copy of the filing.
Prosecutors’ decision to seek the death penalty does not necessarily mean that a plea deal is off the table, though the only other penalty available for Cruz is life in prison without the possibility of parole, The Associated Press reported.
Cruz has another formal arraignment scheduled for Wednesday, during which he is expected to be arraigned on an additional 17 counts of first-degree murder.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, had said that the teen would plead guilty if prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty.
Finkelstein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
CORRECTION: A photo caption in a previous version of this story indicated Cruz was 17. He is 19.
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