Zachary Cruz, the brother of Parkland, Fla., school shooter Nikolas Cruz, pleaded guilty Thursday to trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of his brother’s alleged horrific crime.
Zachary Cruz pleaded no contest and will serve six months of probation, and he will be prohibited from having firearms or ammunition, the Palm Beach Post reports.
He must also stay at least 1 mile away from the school and never return to the grounds, Judge Melinda Brown ordered. He is actually only allowed to enter a school campus if he is enrolled at that school.
The younger Cruz brother is also forbidden from contacting any of the victims of his brother’s massacre or their families.
Zachary Cruz had been held on an astonishing $500,000 bail following his March 19 arrest for trespassing after he was caught on the school’s campus on three occasions.
Prosecutors claimed that Zachary Cruz’s arrest showed that he had the “same flags” his brother had displayed, and used the behavior to request that his bond be set at $750,000. Bond for trespassing is usually a mere $25.
The final time he trespassed, he rode his skateboard through campus and “surpassed all locked doors and gates,” telling deputies he wanted to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, another judge had also prohibited him from possessing guns and ammunition, fearing that the 18-year-old would hurt himself.
“Today is a very good day for Zachary Cruz. His 10-day nightmare is over. This unlawful and unconstitutional confinement has ended. He’s going home, which is where he belongs,” Cruz’s lawyer, Joseph Kimok, said after the proceeding.
“It’s a frustrating day for justice. Zachary Cruz pleaded to this case in order to get out of jail, and the reason that he was in jail is because he had a half-million-dollar bond the judge set on a trespass case,” the lawyer added. “Because of that half-million-dollar bond, he spent the last 10 days behind a locked door in a jumpsuit.”
Cruz’s lawyer continued blasting the system, adding: “The fundamental premise of our criminal-justice system is that you are innocent until proven guilty. But when a judge sets a bond so high that you have to plead guilty in order to get out of jail, that premise is destroyed. That’s what happened in this case; that’s what happens in this courthouse, and in courthouses around the country, every single day.”
Kimok believes that his client was treated differently because of the mass shooting, saying: “If he was any other kid at that school, he wouldn’t have been arrested. In fact, there have been many onlookers who have gone to that school to pay their respects, or for whatever reason. Only Zachary was arrested.”
As part of the plea deal, Cruz must continue to live with Rocxanne Deschamps, where he and his brother stayed last year after their mother died, and must also wear a GPS monitor throughout his probation and submit to random drug testing.