By Kevin Deutsch

Lawyers for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz asked a judge to close her courtroom to all press and members of the public during pre-trial proceedings, arguing an open court would taint potential jurors, court records show.

Cruz’s defense said it expects to introduce testimony and evidence that may later be ruled inadmissible, as well as confidential records the public should not see, according to the July 8 filing in Broward County Circuit Court. His lawyers argued that disclosing such materials to the media and public—along with ensuing press coverage—would violate Cruz’s right to a fair trial.

“Public discussion in the press…will lead to an environment precluding Mr. Cruz from being afforded a fair trial in Broward County and most of the surrounding counties,” Cruz’s defense team, led by Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes, wrote in their motion to Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer.

The request comes as prosecutors and Cruz’s lawyers prepare for his death penalty trial, likely to begin later this year.

Cruz’s lawyers also said they would seek a change of venue for the trial “if the media coverage of this case continues as it has such that Mr. Cruz cannot receive a fair trial in Broward County or the surrounding counties.”

Cruz, now 22, faces 17 counts of capital murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf, though Cruz’s lawyers have said he would plead guilty if prosecutors reversed their decision to seek the death penalty.

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Kevin Deutsch
Kevin Deutsch
Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.

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