NIKOLAS Cruz’s brother has said that the Parkland school shooter wasn’t blaming marijuana for the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty – despite his anti-drug rant during his plea hearing Wednesday.
Zachary Cruz, 21, exclusively told The Sun: “I do not believe my brother was blaming marijuana for his crimes," and added: “Where we grew up, anything my brother got was probably not real or was laced.”
The 21-year-old continued: “My brother plead guilty and accepted responsibility for his crimes.”
Zach also called on local officials to speak up about what they knew about his brother’s alleged mental illness.
“Now we need DCF [Florida Department of Children and Families] and Broward schools to come clean about their crimes and their cover up of my brother’s mental illnesses.”
Zach also wanted to be clear that he himself does not believe marijuana had anything to do with his brother's crimes.
Nikolas — the 23-year-old who opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 — has been incarcerated while awaiting trial and appeared in court on Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the deadliest school shooting in US history.
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In a statement to The Sun on Wednesday, Zachary said he was "pleased" his brother admitted to the Parkland school murders.
"I am pleased that my brother is taking responsibility for his actions. The fact that he is doing so without a deal in place tells me he is sincere," he said.
"I pray for the victims and their families every day and I hope they find some peace."
A Broward County spokesperson told The Sun: "The District does not comment on potential, pending or ongoing litigation."
Last week, Judge Elizabeth Scherer accepted that Nikolas wanted to change his plea in the case.
On October 15, Nikolas appeared in court wearing chinos, a blue sweater and a white shirt before entering his guilty plea to a separate battery assault charge involving an attack on a jail guard.
In the murder and attempted murder charges, he will receive either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Authorities claim that Nikolas confessed to the Valentine's Day 2018 massacre at a suburban high school in Florida.
Nikolas, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, was apprehended approximately an hour after the attack with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
His lawyers have repeatedly offered to plead guilty in return for a guaranteed sentence of life in prison, but prosecutors have refused to drop their pursuit of the death penalty.
A guilty plea would both avoid a traumatic, lengthy trial and still allow a jury to decide Cruz's fate, the defense has argued.
Nikolas allegedly killed 17 people and injured 17 more during the tragic school shooting with a semiautomatic rifle that has since been referred to as the deadliest high school shootings in American history.
He was a student at the school at the time of the shooting and had a history of mental health and behavior problems.
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