Public defender asks to drop Cruz ahead of $400K insurance payout

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz looks down during a hearing on April 27, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Taimy Alvarez-Pool/Getty Images)

The public defenders representing the young man charged in the Parkland school massacre are asking to withdraw from the case, saying the defendant will soon receive nearly a half-million dollars and will no longer qualify for free legal representation.

The Broward County Public Defender's Office filed a notice Wednesdaym saying Nikolas Cruz is set to receive more than $432,000 shortly from his late mother's life insurance policy. Under state law, the public defender can only represent defendants who cannot afford private attorneys.

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein says his office learned about the insurance policy this week.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 14, 2017, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and 17 counts of attempted murder.

The Associated Press contributed ot this report.