Attorneys for the suspect in last year’s Florida school massacre will ask a judge to let them question his former mental health counselors without prosecutors present.

Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz are scheduled Thursday to ask Judge Elizabeth Scherer for permission to question the counselors without notifying prosecutors or allowing their attendance. The counselors treated Cruz before the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

The attorneys wanted to question them informally, but their employer said they would only comply if subpoenaed. That would require prosecutors’ attendance. Cruz’s attorneys say that would hinder their ability to prepare his defense.

Prosecutors say there is no exception to the rule allowing their attendance.

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The 20-year-old defendant has offered to plead guilty for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty.

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