Accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has a trust fund of up to $800,000, but still says he can’t afford to hire an attorney to represent him.
Cruz’s public defender, Melissa McNeil, argued Wednesday that the money – which was left to Cruz and his brother Zachary by their late adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz – should not be used to cover the cost of his legal bills as he faces 17 counts of murder for the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Instead, he wants to donate his share of the inheritance to the Parkland community.
“Just so the court is aware, Mr. Cruz does not want those funds,” McNeil told the court, according to ABC News. “He wants that money donated to an organization that he believes would facilitate healing in our community.”
McNeil said Cruz wants to continue to be represented by the Broward County Public Defender’s Office. She also argued that it’s not clear whether Cruz will ever have access to the full funds because he faces numerous lawsuits and challenges to his inheritance, ABC reported.
McNeil confirmed that Cruz currently has Microsoft stock worth $2,227, as well as a bank account with $353. He also stands to collect $25,000 from his mother’s life insurance policy.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein later told the judge during the hearing that “whatever monies the defendant doesn’t want, let it go to those who have been hurt, period.”
Judge Elizabeth Scherer, has not yet made a ruling.
Cruz is accused of killing 17 people using a legally-obtained AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. The victims included 14 students, aged from 14 to 18, and three staff members, including Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who died while shielding students from bullets.