July 28 (UPI) — A Florida judge ordered the release of a redacted version of Nikolas Cruz‘s confession to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead.
Broward County Circuit Court Jude Elizabeth Anne Scherer ruled Thursday that Cruz and his lawyers cannot keep parts of his video-recorded confession private just because his case has generated publicity. Defense lawyers said the confession could unfairly sway jurors.
“No evidence was shown that public disclosure … would result in a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice in this case,” she wrote.
Scherer gave the defense 10 days to appeal her ruling.
Under Florida law a defendant’s confession to police can’t be released to the public until it is made public at trial or after the case is resolved.
However, statements that aren’t deemed the “substance of a confession” and don’t incriminate the suspect can be released.
Special assistant public defender David Frankel said “98 percent of [Cruz’s statement] is the defendant discussing” the process of planning the shooting, carrying out the act and escaping from the campus.
Frankel added the coverage of Cruz, who killed 17 students and faculty members at the Parkland, Fla., school Feb. 14, has exceeded that of serial killers Ted Bundy, Aileen Wuornos and Daniel Rolling, all of whom were executed.
“Rolling, Bundy and Wuornos did not result in constant, 24-hour day and night coverage,” he said. “There has never been a case in the state of Florida like this.”
Dana McElroy, an attorney representing various South Florida news outlets, said it was “the public’s right to understand how 17 people were murdered at this school.”
In another ruling, Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning said the Broward County School Board may publicly release an independent consultant’s report on whether the school district could have done more to recognize the risk Cruz posed.
Cruz’s lawyers tried to stop the release of the report, saying it could impact his case.