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Jailhouse assault trial for accused Parkland shooter starting despite last-minute plea for delay

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer rejected a defense effort to delay the opening of the jailhouse assault trial of the Parkland shooter.

The Broward Public Defender’s Office sought the delay over the weekend after their lead attorney on the case, David Wheeler, fell ill. Details about the ailment were not disclosed, but officials said it was not COVID-related and will involve some time for rehabilitation.

“Mr. Wheeler had an extreme medical issue on Thursday that caused him to be hospitalized through Friday and Saturday,” Public Defender Gordon Weekes told the judge, protesting her decision to move ahead without Wheeler.

The case has been reassigned to Assistant Public Defender Jaclyn Broudy.

Eight months after the Parkland Massacre, Nickolas Cruz, the state says, attacked a Broward County Jail detention deputy. The attack was captured on jailhouse surveillance video.

Cruz faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, battery on a law enforcement officer and other related charges. His sentencing will not happen until after he is tried for for the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz, who has confessed to the killings, faces the death penalty.

Jury selection for the battery case began Monday morning.


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