What to Know
- Authorities released a transcript of Nikolas Cruz' statement to an investigator shortly after the Stoneman Douglas shooting
- Attorneys for the confessed killer, Nikolas Cruz, argued none of the material should be released
Two and half hours after the suspected Stoneman Douglas High shooter was detained, video recorders began rolling at the Broward Sheriff’s Office where Nikolas Cruz was taken.
For the next 11 hours, until shortly after 5 the next morning, Cruz would confess his crimes, but also reveal much more — allegedly telling a detective that a demon in his head told him to burn, kill and destroy.
While Florida law prohibits the "substance of a confession" being released until it is presented at trial or the case is closed, the state attorneys office on Monday released a large portion of the statement that a judge determined did not constitute the substance of a confession.
U.S. & World
Read The Full Cruz Statement Below:
Attorneys for Cruz argued none of the material should be released, saying it would prejudice the public and make it impossible for the accused killer to get a fair trial. He is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 of attempted murder and the state has announced it will seek the death penalty.
But, on July 26, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ruled the defendant “failed to demonstrate that preventing public disclosure of statement is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice,” adding a high-profile case does not “in itself give the defendant the right to close the flow of information to the public.”
She gave the defense 10 days to appeal her ruling, but it did not.
So on Monday, the state attorney complied with public records requests from NBC 6 and others and released written transcripts of the statement, with the redactions ordered by the judge. The office said it is still preparing to release the video of the statement.
While the transcript is now public, the judge noted, that does not mean any or all of it will ultimately be admitted into evidence in a trial. Those decisions will be made as the case proceeds.
Cruz was detained at 3:41 p.m. on Feb. 14, nearly 75 minutes after he walked out of the 1200 Building at Stoneman Douglas High, leaving 17 people dead or dying in his wake a mile and half away. He complained of trouble breathing and nausea and was briefly taken to a hospital, where his clothing was seized as evidence.
He then was walked into the Broward Sheriff’s Office, where Det. John Curcio began interrogating him.
At first, Curcio did not read Cruz his Miranda rights or caution him about his right to refuse questioning, the defense claims, adding in a court motion, "Instead, Det. Curcio, in several different ways, encourages the defendant to speak."
At one point, when Curcio left the room to get water, Cruz exclaimed "Kill me. Just f---ing kill me," according to the transcript.
Curcio, asking about Cruz’ life history, tells him, "I only can talk to you to hear from you what was going on with you," the defense quoted him as saying in its motion to block release of the statement. The questioning, it says, was intended to assist prosecutors to establish premeditation and to undermine the “potential of the defense of insanity,” the defense stated.
After completing that goal, Curcio gives Cruz his Miranda rights and begins questioning him about the substance of the crime, the defense said.
Cruz's statements about the shooting are blacked out, but the transcript is otherwise wide-ranging, dealing with the death of Cruz's parents, his penchant for killing animals, his former girlfriend, his brother, guns, suicide attempts and, especially, the voice in his head. He told Curcio the voice appeared after his father died about 15 years ago but got worse after his mother died of pneumonia in November.
Cruz described the voice as a male, about his age, and said the only person he ever told about it was his brother.
Curcio asked what the voice told him.
"Burn. Kill. Destroy," Cruz responded.
"Burn, kill, destroy what?" the detective asked.
"Anything," Cruz responded.
He told Curcio that he had to fight the voice from taking over, that it was always bad. Curcio questioned that, asking how it could always be bad if Cruz had held down a job at a discount store for two years.
"The voice is in here," he said, apparently pointing to his head. "And then it's me. It's just regular me trying to be a good person." Curcio said everyone has a good and bad side.
"Do they really?" Cruz said.
He said the voice tried to get him to shoot people at a park a week earlier. Or maybe it was three. Cruz couldn't remember exactly, but he didn't want to do it. Curcio asked why he didn't.
"I ... I don't know," he said.
Cruz told Curcio he wanted to join the Army to be a Ranger but he failed the written exam "because I was stupid."
Cruz said he bought the AR-15 allegedly used in the shooting a year before because it was "cool looking" and "to feel safe." He said he bought other guns but fired them only twice, both times into the cement floor of his mother's garage.
"It didn't bounce all over hell and creation?" Curcio asked. No, Cruz replied, saying the bullets embedded in the concrete.
Cruz said he tried to kill himself with an over-the-counter pain reliever after his mom died and years earlier had tried to drink himself to death because he was lonely.
"You don't have a lot of friends?" Curcio asked.
"No." Cruz said he goes fishing with the demon.
At other times, Curcio makes "irrelevant, prejudicial and inadmissible" statements or commentary, according to the defense.
At some point, Cruz requests the presence of a psychologist, but Curcio did not give him the opportunity to have one present, the defense stated.
At the end of the interrogation, the detective let Cruz's 18-year-old brother into the room.
"You — your — people think you're a monster now," Zachary Cruz told him.
"A monster?" Cruz responded.
"You're not acting like yourself. Like, why? Like, we've ... this is not who you are. Like, come on. Why did you do this? This is ... don't even laugh at me," Zachary Cruz said.
"I'm sorry, dude," Nikolas Cruz replied.
"The result is a discussion, and video presentation thereof, that is likely to be misconstrued by the public-at-large, resulting in widespread prejudice against the defendant that will prevent the seating of a fair and impartial jury," the defense argued.
It is not yet clear whether that section of the statement the defense found objectionable was redacted by the judge.