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Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz waives right to speedy trial

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, who usually sits in court with his head down, briefly looks up during a delay in his hearing in front of Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer Friday afternoon, April 27, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Taimy ALvarez/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz on Friday waived his constitutional right to a speedy trial, giving his defense team more time to prepare his case.

In the interest of moving the case along, Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer set a May 4 deadline for Cruz’s lawyers to formally request evidence — such as witness statements, videos and police and autopsy reports — from prosecutors.

“I don’t want this case treading water, so to speak,” Scherer said.

Under Florida law, the speedy trial rule generally requires that a felony defendant go to trial within 175 days of arrest unless it’s waived. By waiving it, a trial deadline is eliminated, giving lawyers on both sides an indefinite amount of time to prepare to take the case before a jury.

Cruz, a 19-year-old ex-student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, went to the school with an assault-style rifle on Feb. 14 and gunned down 34 students and staff, killing 17.

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He is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Cruz’s younger brother, Zachary, came and went from the hearing alone Friday. He watched his brother intently, seemingly hoping to make eye contact.

Nikolas Cruz, handcuffed to a belly chain and shackled at the ankles, shuffled into court, head down.

When he took a seat at the defense table, he sneaked a quick peek at prosecutors. His head remained deeply bowed for the remainder of his time in the courtroom.

When asked after court if he’d like to make a comment, Zachary Cruz, 18, said, “Nope.”

Nikolas Cruz’s next hearing was set for May 25. At that time lawyers will discuss how to proceed with the case, including which witnesses to depose first.

“I’d like to go through and figure out how many depositions you’re going to take,” the judge said. “I’m not looking to pin you down, I just mainly want to get the depositions, if they’re going to be taken, moving along.”

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© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.