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Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz’s trial over fight with jail guard faces delay before jury selection

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Nikolas Cruz’s trial for fighting with a jail guard nine months after he killed 17 people at his former high school in Florida may be postponed because his lead attorney suffered a ‘serious medical emergency, according to court documents.

Broward County public defender David Wheeler was in the ‘intensive care unit at a local hospital’ on September 30, according to a motion filed by Cruz’s assistant public defender on Sunday, a day before jury selection was supposed to start.

The defense team asked for a delay last week, they said, but the court argued that another lawyer could step in as a substitute, according to WPLG.

Wheeler’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com. No further details on his condition have been given, and it is not yet known if the assault trial will be postponed.

In video from November 2018, Cruz weaves between tables with his head down inside a common area of the Broward County Jail. The silent footage shows Cruz briefly exchanging words with Sgt. Raymond Beltran, who was sitting in the corner, before charging at him.

Nikolas Cruz's defense team asked to delay his trial for assaulting a jail officer hours before jury selection was supposed to begin, citing the health of attorney David Wheeler, left

Nikolas Cruz’s defense team asked to delay his trial for assaulting a jail officer hours before jury selection was supposed to begin, citing the health of attorney David Wheeler, left

The defense team says Wheeler was in the ICU last week, but his office has not given a reason for his hospital visit. Above, Wheeler and Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse on July 14

The defense team says Wheeler was in the ICU last week, but his office has not given a reason for his hospital visit. Above, Wheeler and Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse on July 14

In video from November 2018, nine months after the Parkland shooting, Cruz is seen fighting with Sgt. Ray Beltran at the Broward County Jail.

In video from November 2018, nine months after the Parkland shooting, Cruz is seen fighting with Sgt. Ray Beltran at the Broward County Jail. 

The two ended up in a ground fight and exchanged punches. At one point, Cruz tried to take the officer’s taser away. 

Beltran is said to have angered Cruz by telling him to stop dragging his feet across the ground.  

The 23-year-old is facing four charges of aggravated assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, use of a self defense weapon on a law enforcement officer and depriving an officer of means of protection or communication.

The incident carries a possible 15-year sentence and is being tried separately from the shooting.

The defense team says it could take weeks for another attorney to learn the ins-and-outs of the case. If the defense makes any mistakes, it could make it more likely that Cruz will get the death penalty for the shooting, they say.

In the video, Cruz is seen walking alone in circles with his head down around some benches in a small indoor recreation area at the jail. After several minutes, Cruz charged at the guard

In the video, Cruz is seen walking alone in circles with his head down around some benches in a small indoor recreation area at the jail. After several minutes, Cruz charged at the guard

The guard could be seen trying to stand up before the pair then fell to the floor

The guard could be seen trying to stand up before the pair then fell to the floor

Cruz was cuffed after the guard pointed his stun gun at him and told him to put his hands up

Cruz was cuffed after the guard pointed his stun gun at him and told him to put his hands up

Cruz was 19 years old when he killed 17 people, including 14 students, and injuring 17 others at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. 

He had been kicked out of the school his junior year.

That trial is still ongoing, but the outcome of the assault case could determine Cruz’s punishment for the killings.

‘If that is entered as an aggravating factor, it will be hard for that not to be in the back of the jury’s mind,’ former Florida prosecutor and Nova Southeastern law professor Mark Dobson told the Associated Press.

Cruz’s lawyers have said he’s willing to plead guilty to 17 murders in exchange for life in prison, according to the AP. Cruz’s team accepts he carried out the shootings, but have applied for an insanity defense. Prosecutors have sought to have him executed if he is convicted of the murders. 

In a hearing for the assault case in July, prosecutors said that Cruz’s attorneys have indicated their defense will be that Sgt. Raymond Beltran mistreated Cruz previously and provoked the attack.

In the video, which doesn’t have sound, Cruz is seen walking alone in circles with his head down around some benches in a small indoor recreation area at the jail.

He is dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, a white long-sleeve undershirt and sandals. Beltran is sitting at a table in the corner.

After several minutes, Cruz stops about 10 feet from Beltran and the two appear to exchange words – Beltran told investigators he asked Cruz not to drag his feet and damage his sandals.

Cruz flips both middle fingers at Beltran and then charges the guard, who stands up to defend himself.

Cruz, who weighs about 130 pounds, is able to throw the larger Beltran to the ground briefly, before the guard is able to flip him over and briefly pin him.

Cruz escapes Beltran’s grasp and the two get into boxing stances. Cruz hit Beltran in the shoulder before the guard hits Cruz in the face, staggering him.

Beltran then arms his stun gun and points it at Cruz, who gets on the ground and is handcuffed. The fight lasted almost exactly a minute.

Cruz, who weighs about 130 pounds, is able to throw the larger Beltran to the ground briefly, before the guard is able to flip him over and briefly pin him

Cruz, who weighs about 130 pounds, is able to throw the larger Beltran to the ground briefly, before the guard is able to flip him over and briefly pin him

Cruz, who weighs about 130 pounds, threw the larger Beltran to the ground. Cruz’s attorneys say a bad outcome in this trial makes it likely that he’ll get the death penalty for the shooting

Cruz is accused of killing 17 people at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. Above, students put their hands up as they are evacuated after the shooting

Cruz is accused of killing 17 people at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. Above, students put their hands up as they are evacuated after the shooting

Beltran was arrested for driving under the influence in Washington state while on official business in March 2019, according to WSVN.

Prosecutor Maria Schneider told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer in July that her team needs Cruz’s complete medical records from the time he arrived at the jail shortly after the shooting, saying that if Beltran previously mistreated him, any injuries might have been documented. 

Wheeler, Cruz’s attorney, argued that Cruz’s medical records are private under state and federal law and at most prosecutors should only be allowed to see records of any examinations that happened within a day of the fight. 

Neither Cruz nor Beltran appeared to suffer any serious injuries.

Danielle Woodard, the daughter of Nikolas Cruz's biological mom Brenda Woodard, faces life in prison for targeting an elderly woman in a carjacking in January 2020

Danielle Woodard, the daughter of Nikolas Cruz’s biological mom Brenda Woodard, faces life in prison for targeting an elderly woman in a carjacking in January 2020

The Parkland shooting inspired a nationwide movement to end gun violence and enact stringer gun control laws. It launched the activist careers of former Parkland students Emma González, who now goes by the first name X, and David Hogg.

Cruz’s sister, Danielle Woodward faces life in prison for brutally targeting an elderly woman in an alleged carjacking in January 2020. 

Woodard, the daughter of Cruz’s biological mom Brenda Woodard, jumped into the victim’s Honda while she donated items at a Goodwill trailer, according to a Miami police report.

The 72-year-old climbed back into the passenger side to try to stop Danielle, 34, from driving away, but was hurled from the vehicle as it slammed into a curb, suffering head and arm injuries.

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