Cruz faces a minimum of life in prison and maximum of the death penalty.
After pleading guilty, he apologized to the victims in a short speech.
“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. If I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others,” Cruz said. “I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do.”
Death penalty trials are split into two distinct sections: the guilty phase and the penalty phase. The guilty plea would resolve the former phase but not the latter, and Cruz could still be sentenced to death.
Last week, the Broward State Attorney’s Office released a statement saying “there have been no plea negotiations with the prosecution,” and “if he pleads guilty, there would still be a penalty phase.”
Guilty plea in November 2018 jail assault
As for the jail assault case, Cruz appeared in Scherer’s courtroom Friday to plead guilty, cutting off a trial for which jury selection began earlier this month.
Wearing a navy sweater, white collared shirt and tan slacks, Cruz on Friday stood at a podium and told Scherer that he understood the four charges against him in the assault case.
When Scherer asked him how he was feeling, he responded, “Feeling alright,” before succinctly answering questions about his communication with his attorneys and comprehension of the proceedings.
He pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of protection; and use of a self-defense weapon against a law enforcement officer.
He faces a minimum sentence of about 14 and a half months for those pleas.
According to the arrest report, the incident began when a jail officer asked that Cruz not drag his sandals on the ground while walking around a dayroom area.
Cruz tackled and repeatedly punched the guard, then took his stun gun in a fight, according to the arrest report. As they wrestled over the device, the weapon discharged, the report states. Cruz struck the sergeant several more times until the guard regained control of the weapon, struck at Cruz’s face and took him into custody, the report states.
CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.Source link