A judge ordered the suspect in last year’s Florida high school massacre to attend his pretrial hearings after his attorneys refused to let her question him.

Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz say he has agreed to skip the hearings because his presence draws television coverage that emotionally damages survivors of the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer said Friday she wanted to question Cruz to make sure he understands his decision. His attorneys refused, so she ordered that he must attend.

Special assistant public defender David Frankel speaks with Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Special assistant public defender David Frankel speaks with Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Friday’s hearing covered a defense motion to block prosecutors from learning which mental health doctors visit Cruz in jail. Scherer said she would rule by Monday.

Trial for the 20-year-old Cruz is scheduled for early next year.

Defense attorney Melisa McNeill speaks with Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Defense attorney Melisa McNeill speaks with Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz wipes his eyes during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Parkland school suspect Nikolas Cruz wipes his eyes during a hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.