The man behind the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida would like to donate any money he stands to inherit to a charity chosen by the families of the 17 victims.
Nikolas Cruz’s public defender Melisa McNeill told a Florida judge of her client’s wishes on Wednesday during a hearing to determine whether Cruz has enough funds to hire his own lawyer.
Cruz, 19, and his brother stand to receive $25,000 from their late mother’s life insurance policy, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Cruz’s mother, Lynda Cruz, died in November 2017. Lynda also had an annuity that, according to Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, could be worth up to $800,000, per ABC News.
“Whatever money he is entitled to, he does not want that money,” McNeill said. “He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ [families] believes would be able to facilitate healing in our community or an opportunity to educate our community about the issues that have ripened over the last four or five months.””
The 19-year-old confessed shooter is accused of 17 counts of murder and faces a maximum sentence of either execution or life in prison without parole if convicted.
He is currently represented by the Broward Public Defender’s Office, which handles clients who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
Attorneys representing Nikolas said he is willing to plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty. When Finkelstein mentioned that during Wednesday’s hearing, prosecuting attorney Shari Tate cut him off.
“The state of Florida is not allowing Mr. Cruz to choose his own punishment for the murder of 17 people,” Tate said, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Although Nikolas may have significant funds available to him over his lifetime, he is currently cash poor.
McNeill said that her client has $353 in a bank account as of April 5 and a possible claim to 24 shares of Microsoft stock purchased in 2003 that are currently worth around $2,227, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Neither of Nikolas’ lawyers mentioned a charity that might receive his inheritance, and it is unknown whether the victims’ families would even consider the gesture, according to the Palm Beach Post.