Accused school shooter to receive large inheritance, could need new lawyer

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Nikolas Cruz, the accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, may need a new legal team due to a large inheritance he is expected to receive.

Cruz is currently being represented by public defenders, funded by tax payers, but with the sizable inheritance, he would no longer qualify to have a public defender.

Court records from Cruz’s late mother’s estate have been sealed, but it has been revealed that Cruz and his brother are expected to inherit nearly $800,000 from their late mother’s insurance policy and several hundred thousand dollars more from the sale of her Parkland home.

The Broward Public Defender’s Office filed a motion, Tuesday, to re-evaluate whether Cruz can afford a private attorney.

“He’s a broken human being,” said assistant public defender Melissa McNeil. “He’s a broken child.”

If Cruz inherits the money, a judge could rule he is not indigent and can afford to pay for his own attorney. If that happens, his public defenders would be removed from the case.

However, families of the victims could file lawsuits to try to freeze the money before it reaches Cruz.

The Snead family, who took Cruz in after his mother died, reportedly knew Cruz could receive an inheritance.

The couple told CBS News they also knew Cruz had guns. “I knew he had hunting rifles,” said James Snead.

When asked if he thought they were just hunting rifles, Snead replied, “Well, I knew he had an assault rifle, but I knew he used it out hunting.”

When asked if that seemed reasonable, Snead replied, “It’s his right to own a gun.”

Although the Sneads said they didn’t see any warning signs, Cruz’s classmates said he scared them and even made threats.

“He made this into a joke, saying, ‘I’m gonna be the next school shooter. I have all these guns. If you mess with me, I will kill you,'” said Cruz’s classmate Ariana Lopez. “In those messages, he talks about bringing a gun to school and killing our friends.”

A recently released Department of Children and Families report on Cruz from 2016 describes him as depressed and cutting himself.

According to the report, a mobile crisis unit was called out to his school, but he was found “stable enough not to be hospitalized,” and it was “determined that he was not at risk to harm himself or others.”

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