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Brother Of Accused Parkland Shooter Pleads Guilty To Trespassing At Site

Zachary Cruz, in an earlier court appearance during the arraignment of his younger brother, Nikolas Cruz.
Zachary Cruz, in an earlier court appearance during the arraignment of his younger brother, Nikolas Cruz.

After 10 days in custody Zachary Cruz, whose brother is charged in the murder of 17 people at a Florida high school last month, pleaded no contest Thursday to trespassing on the school's grounds and was sentenced to time served.

Cruz, 18, also was ordered to complete six months of probation, to attend therapy and to wear a GPS ankle monitor. Cruz was barred from using alcohol or possessing firearms.

Not only does the plea deal prohibit Cruz from coming within a mile of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the site of the Feb. 14 massacre — but he is also not allowed on the campus of any school where he is not enrolled.

Cruz was arrested March 19 after police found him skateboarding at the school, having bypassed locked doors and gates, according to police.

Cruz said his intentions were to "reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in," according to the detective who interviewed him.

In a prepared statement read to the court, Cruz's court-appointed attorney, Joseph Kimok, said that his client "did his best to cope" in the aftermath of his mother's death in November and the killing spree in February.

"He didn't turn to drugs, alcohol or violence. He turned to his skateboard and the one activity that gave him solace," said Kimok as quoted by the Miami Herald. "And he turned to Stoneman Douglas, where he'd felt welcome. Zachary's visits to Stoneman Douglas weren't to scare anyone. He went after hours. He didn't expect to see anyone. He just wanted to try to make sense of this. Nothing else."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
Amy Held is an editor on the newscast unit. She regularly reports breaking news on air and online.