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Prosecutors say there is no exception to the rule allowing their attendance.
Attorneys for confessed Parkland killer Nikolas Cruz are expected in court Thursday afternoon, asking a judge to order mental health professionals to talk with them about their interactions with Cruz over a seven-year period without prosecutors or the public knowing which professionals are being interviewed.
They say the staff from Henderson Behavioral Health could be “potential mitigation witnesses for the penalty phase of the trial,” which comes after defendant facing a death penalty is convicted of a capital crime.
Under current Florida law, the defense need only convince one of 12 jurors to vote against the death penalty to send Cruz to prison for life without a chance for parole.
His attorneys have repeatedly offered to have Cruz plead guilty to all counts – 17 of first-degree murder and 17 of attempted murder – in exchange for 34 consecutive life sentences, but the state is moving forward toward a death penalty trial.
Prosecutors say no law or rule allows for the defense to conduct interviews in secret with potential witnesses, arguing “the defendant is essentially asking this court to give him investigatory powers that are exclusively conferred to the state attorney.”
Scherer is expected to hear arguments over the matter at a hearing set Thursday afternoon.
Stay tuned to NBC 6 on air and online for updates