Florida Grand Jury Formally Charges Nikolas Cruz with 17 Counts of Murder

Legal experts weigh in on Florida shooting suspect's future.

Posted: Mar. 7, 2018 1:12 PM
Updated: Mar. 7, 2018 1:16 PM

(ABC) A Florida grand jury has formally charged Nikolas Cruz with 17 counts of murder in the mass shooting at a high school. 

As Nikolas Cruz, the teenager accused of gunning down 17 people at a Florida school last month, spends his days behind bars in South Florida, his future is undecided.

ABC News senior legal correspondent and analyst Sunny Hostin laid out three possibilities for the teen: serving the rest of his life in a prison, being sent to a mental institution [if found to be mentally ill] or receiving the death penalty.

A grand jury is the first step in the judicial process for Cruz, 19, who was arrested on 17 counts of premeditated murder after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The prosecution will present evidence to a secret panel of grand jurors who will decide if there is enough evidence for an indictment.

The grand jury is usually "just the prosecutor presenting evidence to a jury of generally 23 people," Hostin said. "There is no defense attorney providing another side."

"Typically you have a detective testify, the investigating detective," she said. "I don't think in this type of case you'll have victims' families [testify]. My sense is, because it's so public, you also have a confession from Nikolas Cruz, this is case that is very easily indictable."

"There's no question that he's guilty of these horrible crimes," she said.

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