Parkland suspect allowed to skip hearings ahead of trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz will be allowed to skip many future court hearings in the 2018 massacre that left 17 people dead.

A Florida judge on Wednesday granted the request by lawyers for the 20-year-old Cruz, who faces the death penalty if convicted. They say Cruz’s continued presence in court attracts media attention that further traumatizes victims and the public as a whole.

Cruz told the judge he agrees with the decision.

Cruz is accused of the 17 slayings and with wounding 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. Trial is tentatively planned for January 2020.

His lawyers say Cruz will plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors want the case to go to trial so a jury can decide.

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