Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged with killing 17 people at his former Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, has told a court he wants to donate any money from his late mother’s estate to victims of the massacre.
During an appearance in Broward Circuit Court on Wednesday, defense lawyer Melisa McNeill said Cruz doesn’t want money from his mother’s life insurance policy or any other source of income.
“He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ family 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,” McNeill said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Howard Finkelstein, another public defender, said the money should “go to those who have been hurt,” the Palm Beach Post reported.
The hearing was held to determine whether Cruz is entitled to a public defender. Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she planned to issue a ruling later this month, the Post said.
McNeill said the estate of Cruz’s mother is tied up in the probate process with multiple claims and lawsuits against it. Lynda Cruz died in November from flu complications. Court records show she had a $25,000 life insurance policy, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Among the financial details revealed during the hearing were a bank account that had more than $17,000 a year ago but is now down to $353.43. Cruz also owns Microsoft shares worth about $2,000.
In addition, according to ABC News, McNeill said Cruz’s mother may have also had an inheritable annuity potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. She said $3,333 from the annuity was deposited into a checking account Cruz had access to just prior to his mother’s death, but that no similar deposits have appeared since.
Finkelstein said if annuity deposits were to be made to Cruz’s account monthly, he stands to gain as much as $800,000 during his expected lifetime.
According to the Post, Cruz’s lawyers have told prosecutors their client is willing to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.