Florida shoot shooter: Who is Nikolas Cruz?
Who is Nikolas Cruz? He is accused of the murder of 17 people at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in parkland, Florida. Cruz is in custody as authorities comb through his background for clues into why he went on a horrific shooting spree.
The criminal history of the Park school shooting suspect that the biological mother would be an important factor in the question of whether he is sentenced to death for the massacre that left 17 people dead, a report stated.
Brenda Woodard, 62, who played no role in Nikolas Cruz education after him for adoption after he was born, was identified by the Miami Herald as his biological mother.
Nikolas Cruz is the biological mother, Brenda Woodard [left] and his half-sister Danielle Woodard [right] have a long criminal history.
(Florida Department of Corrections via AP/Florida Department of Corrections)
The media outlet reported Woodard was arrested 28 times and struggled with addiction. She was arrested when she was pregnant with Cruz after the purchase of crack cocaine.
The Herald reported her past will almost certainly be put before a jury considering whether he should live or die. Woodard declined to speak with the Herald about the article.
Cruz is a half-sister, Danielle Woodard, 31, is currently serving an eight year prison sentence on “charges including second-degree attempted murder of a police officer,” the Herald reported. She was charged twice for bringing weapons to school, and had previously been arrested 17 times. She is scheduled for a release in 2020.
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Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, confirmed the identity of Cruz’s birth mother and half-sister to Fox News.
“Out of respect for the families that we do not want comments at this time. This is a horrible thing and there is more terrible still to come,” Finkelstein told Fox News. “It is the reason why we believe it is in the interest of the family and the community to end this case immediately with a guilty plea for 34 consecutive life sentences, and avoid the additional pain and pain will come if we the two decade march towards the death penalty. Close to him forever. Throw away the key and never more speak in his name.”
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Criminal law experts said it was possible the Broward Public Defender’s Office would probe Cruz “genetic makeup” and his biological mother may be called to testify during the decisive phase.
“Of course, this would be of interest to me,” Bennett Brummer, a retired public defender, said. “The question would be how I would use it.”
David S. Weinstein, a former state and federal prosecutor now in private practice told the Associated Press: “It’s not necessarily her past, but how her past has contributed to his genetic make-up.
“Her use of drugs and alcohol while she was pregnant of him, and how her genetic makeup was passed on to him.”
The American Bar Association guidelines for defense lawyers in death penalty cases say that they must carefully examine whether the suspicious past of the family, goes back at least three generations.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of a commission is the investigation into the shooting independent of the prosecution, said Wednesday that all of Cruz’s background is relevant.
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“As information has come to light about his biological mother and there is some relevance, of course, we will take a look,” Gualtieri said. “We are looking heavy on his background and his whole life.”
The defendant’s younger brother, Zachary, who also was adopted by Lynda Cruz, refused to speak to the Miami Herald about the story. He and his brother Nikolas share the same biological mother, Finkelstein confirmed to Fox News. His caregiver, Mike Donovan, CEO of Nexus Services, told Fox News that Zachary “is proof positive that genetics does not dictate a path in life.”
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Donovan offered to provide Zachary housing and a job in Virginia as part of a probation agreement, a Broward County judge agreed to when Zachary was arrested for trespassing at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the shooting in March. He was also arrested in April for violating his probation and driving without a valid license. In June, Zachary started an anti-bullying initiative, “We Isolate anyone.”
“The Miami Herald contact Zach for comments related to this story. Zach decided not to take part in the interview about the issue. We assume that the Herald of the reporting is correct, but we are not able to independently confirm her identity,” Donovan told Fox News.
“Any information about Nikolas Cruz is likely to be useful in the community in the quest for information and understanding. That being said, Zachary is proof positive that genetics does not dictate a path in life. In fact, Zachary is an inspiration for anyone who has suffered a lot and overcome challenges,” he continued.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to your personal life play out in the national media. However, Zachary Cruz is an incredibly strong, resilient young man and he has a strong family support system in Virginia now to see him. Zach is, of course, the processing of this information is shared with the public, and this would be difficult for anyone… especially a teenager. However, he has a strong family support system in Virginia to him by means of” the statement continued.
Cruz, 19, a former student at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been charged with 17 murders and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the school. His lawyer said that he is guilty will plead, if spared the death penalty, but prosecutors have refused that offer. If the case goes to the penalty phase, the 12 jurors must agree on the death penalty or Cruz will get an automatic lifetime prison sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her via @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.