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Judge: Public defender must represent Florida school shooting suspect

Nikolas Cruz unlikely to get inheritance money

Nikolas Cruz appears in court with attorney Melissa McNeil (L) on Feb. 19, 2018. (Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A judge ruled that the public defender must continue representing the man charged in last year's Florida high school massacre because he is unlikely to obtain a large inheritance left by his mother.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer ruled Friday that Broward County public defenders must represent 20-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

The office recently asked to be removed from the case because the former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student could receive $432,000 before taxes from his late mother's annuity. Under state law, the office can only represent indigent defendants.

Scherer ruled Cruz hasn't applied for the money and if he did, it would likely be claimed through lawsuits filed by his victims' families.

Cruz's attorneys say he would plead guilty to killing 17 for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty.