When Nikolas Cruz was arrested and charged with 17 counts of murder in Florida’s 2nd worst mass shootings, he was appointed a public defender after he signed court papers claiming he didn’t have enough money to pay for his defense.
The 19-year-old former student used an AR-15 rifle to gun down his former classmates at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day.
A woman who took him in after his adoptive parents died has filed a motion to take control of his $800,000 inheritance — an inheritance that the public defender’s office was not aware of.
Now Floridians are asking why their tax dollars are being used to pay for his defense when he has all this cash at his disposal.
Rocxanne Deschamps, who took in Cruz after his mother died, filed court docs for control of his inheritance left to him by his mother, Lynda Cruz, who died from flu-related complications on November 1.
Lynda and her husband adopted Nikolas and his adopted brother as infants. Neither adoptive parent left a will when they died 15 years apart. The $800,000 is believed to be the combined total of their estates.
Howard Finkelstein, the public defender of Broward County, Florida, filed a court motion on Tuesday, asking a judge to investigate Cruz’s finances.
Deschamps’ lawyers quickly filed a motion to take control of his inheritance the day after Nikolas Cruz gunned down his classmates and faculty members.
Deschamps’ lawyer claimed she was filing on behalf of Nikolas’ adopted brother, who still lives with her.
Nikolas’s public defenders Melisa McNeil, pictured left, and Gordon Weeks claim their client is depressed, suicidal and remorseful.
“He’s sad. He’s mournful. He’s remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on, and he’s just a broken human being,” McNeil told reporters while fighting back tears.
Weeks, who was also brought to tears while speaking with reporters, said Cruz was remorseful and “He is dealing with the shock of all this that’s going on.”
McNeil and Weeks said Cruz is autistic and has other significant psychological problems.
“When your brain is not fully developed, you don’t know how to deal with these things,” McNeil said. “That’s the child I’m sitting across from.”
Weeks added: “The child is deeply troubled and he has endured significant trauma that stems from the loss of his mother.”
But their boss, Howard Finkelstein, said if an investigation determines Cruz has money, “It could result in us being removed from the case.”
He added: “The question here is, are there enough [financial] resources to pay for a lawyer?”
Photos by Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty Images