Judge: Massacre suspect’s attorneys can’t summon counselors

May 2, 2019
Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in court at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday, May 1, 2019 for motion by the Public Defender's Office to withdraw from the case due to Cruz receiving an inheritance that can be used to pay for a private attorney. Defense attorney Melisa McNeill and Diane Cuddihy speak with their client. Nikolas Cruz, who faces the death penalty if convicted. Cruz is accused of killing 17 and wounding 17 in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for the former student charged with last year’s Florida high school massacre won’t get to secretly subpoena his former mental health counselors.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer in an order posted Thursday ruled Nikolas Cruz’s public defenders under Florida law can’t force counselors who treated him before the shooting to be interviewed without notifying prosecutors and allowing their attendance.

Cruz’s attorneys told Judge Scherer last month that counselors usually agree to informal, voluntary interviews, but the company employing Cruz’s counselors won’t let them talk without a subpoena because it’s being sued by victims’ families.

The 20-year-old Cruz is charged with killing 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. His attorneys say he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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