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Accused Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz's Attorneys Want Court Hearings Closed To Media, Public

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) - Attorneys for accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz want a judge to close all future hearings to the media and the public to ensure a fair trial.

Cruz is accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

A motion filed Thursday by lawyers for Cruz says news coverage of pretrial hearings could instill bias among prospective jurors in the death penalty case.

For example, they say, the hearings could discuss evidence later found inadmissible at Cruz's trial.

Hearings for Cruz, 22, have drawn extensive news coverage since his arrest in the Valentine's Day 2018 massacre at the Parkland school.

In addition to the 17 fatal shootings of students and staff, 17 other people were wounded.

"Closure is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice," wrote Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes and other defense lawyers in a motion.

"Public disclosure of inadmissible evidence is detrimental to the truth-seeking function of a criminal trial," they added.

The Broward state attorney's office will oppose the defense effort to close the pretrial hearings. spokeswoman Paula McMahon said in an email Friday. She said prosecutors will respond in their own court filing.

The next status hearing is set for Tuesday.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers say he would change his plea to guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence. Prosecutors have rejected that offer.

No trial date has been set.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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