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Suspect in Florida school shooting back in court for status hearing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) – The former student accused of last week’s deadly shooting rampage at a Florida high school returned to court on Monday for a status hearing, and the judge ordered that a defense motion filed last week remain sealed from public view.

Nikolas Cruz, wearing a red, jail-issued uniform, sat during the short hearing in Fort Lauderdale without showing any emotion, his head bowed. The content of the motion filed by his lawyers was not described in the hearing.

Cruz is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder after the attack last Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. It is the deadliest shooting ever at a U.S. high school.

Constance Simmons, a spokeswoman for the Florida state attorney’s office in Fort Lauderdale, said her office had not seen the sealed motion, but said they had been informed it was about defense lawyers’ access to Cruz.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer, of Broward Circuit Court, said during the hearing she was not willing to overturn the sealing order issued by another judge at the court.

“Because the issue is so very limited, I‘m going to leave it the way it is,” Scherer said.

Simmons said prosecutors would not appeal the decision.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Monday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation should release records about its failure to investigate a tip it received about worrying behavior by Cruz earlier in the year. On Friday, the Republican governor called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign over the agency’s missteps.

The FBI has acknowledged it failed to act on a tip warning that Cruz possessed a gun and the desire to kill.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Leslie Adler

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