“He had some sort of epiphany”: Mental health expert reveals Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz thinks he will be freed from prison

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland school shooter, still believes he may one day be released from jail (Image via Getty Images)
Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland school shooter, still believes he may one day be released from jail (Image via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, a mental health professional recruited for the Nikolas Cruz case revealed that the 23-year-old Parkland school shooter has plans for his life after prison, indicating that he believes he will be freed one day.

In October, 2021, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder for firing an AR-15-style gun at the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooting had taken place on February 14, 2018.

According to a transcript, Wesley Center - a Texas counselor hired by Cruz's defense team - claimed that he discovered the school shooter's "irrational notions" last year when the gunman started talking about his life after jail.

Transcripts of the conversation, obtained by Associated Press states:

“He had some sort of epiphany while he was in (jail) that would focus his thoughts on being able to help people. His life’s purpose was to be helping others.”

His sentencing trial will take place at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, where a decision will be made as to whether he will receive a death sentence or a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors demand death sentence for Nikolas Cruz, defense to argue this week

Earlier this month, the prosecution declared its case closed, stating that Cruz should be executed due to the seriousness of his conduct. To further argue in favor of the death sentence, they subjected the jury to disturbing images of the killing spree.

Prosecutors also invited a line-up of distraught family members to testify in court and drive home the emotional impact of the shooting.

The sentencing trial will begin on Monday, August 15, and will see Cruz's defense team trying to persuade Judge Elizabeth Scherer to permit testimony from multiple mental health professionals, including Wesley Center.

At the Broward County Jail last year, Center fitted Cruz's head with probes for a scan to map his brain.

The defense plans to display Cruz's "quantitative electroencephalogram," which they claim demonstrates the presence of fetal alcohol syndrome and other abnormalities.

The information will be used to support their argument that Nikolas Cruz's difficult upbringing and severely weakened mental state were mitigating circumstances in the massacre and that a sentence of life in prison is appropriate.

To show that he was emotionally scarred from a young age, the defense will further emphasize that Nikolas Cruz saw his father die of a heart attack when he was still a child.

The prosecution is likely to reject the tests as being unreliable pseudoscience.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal