Florida school shooting defendant in court, asks to leave

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooting defendant Nikolas Cruz appeared in court for the first time in weeks and was immediately given permission to leave.

The 21-year-old Cruz told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer he didn't want to take part in a hearing Friday concerning his alleged assault on a jail corrections officer. Scherer granted his request.

Scherer didn't rule on whether Cruz must take part in an afternoon hearing on several defense motions involving the February 2018 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted. His attorneys say he will plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors have rejected that offer.

Trial is currently set to begin with jury selection on Jan. 27.

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