The accused mass murderer who took 17 lives in Parkland, Florida was in court on Wednesday for a hearing to determine whether he can afford to pay for his own attorney — or if the Broward Public Defender's Office will continue to defend him with taxpayer dollars.
The Sun Sentinel reported that he is set to inherit $25,000 from his late mother's life insurance policy, and possibly as much as $800,000 from her estate. Records showed that at one point, the teen had over $12,000 in a bank account, but that amount was down to just over $350 as of April 5.
Regarding any funds at his disposal now or in the future, defense attorney Melisa McNeill said: "He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims' families believe could facilitate healing in our community or an opportunity to educate our community."
Public Defender Howard Finkelstein added, "One of our concerns is that a private lawyer may come in...and bill tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars."
According to Assistant Public Defender Diane Cuddihy, "The costs in this case are going to be astronomical." The defense asked the judge to consider the fact that the defendant will likely face numerous civil lawsuits from the victims of the shooting and their family members.
Given the projections of his current or even potential net worth, it is expected that Cruz will be declared financially indigent within a period of months considering the charges against him.
While defense counsel reminded the judge that the accused killer would willingly plead guilty to the charges against him in exchange for a sentence of life in prison rather than the death penalty, the Broward County State Attorney's Office didn't bite.
Prosecutor Shari Tate said, "The state of Florida is not allowing [the accused] to choose his own punishment for the murder of 17 people."