Second STEM School shooter found guilty – The Denver Post
A Douglas County District Court jury on Tuesday convicted STEM School Highlands Ranch shooter Devon Erickson of first-degree felony murder for killing classmate Kendrick Castillo, ensuring a lifetime in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury is still delivering its verdict on nearly four dozen other charges Erickson faces in connection to the shooting that left eight other students and teachers wounded.
The jury took about 4.5 hours to decide the 20-year-old’s fate for the May 2019 incident following a three-week trial in which prosecutors put forth more than 60 witnesses and offered more than 200 pieces of evidence. His defense included just two witnesses who said it was possible Erickson didn’t intentionally kill Castillo.
Prosecutors described Erickson as a calculating killer intent on slaughtering a room full of classmates. The defense team said he was a troubled and misled teen, pumped up on drugs and easily manipulated by McKinney, who was homicidal and suicidal.
Brauchler was district attorney for the 18th Judicial District when the incident occurred and his term ended in January 2021. He stayed on to lead the prosecution against Erickson.
The most serious charges were tied to Castillo’s death. He was felled by a single gunshot Erickson fired just as Castillo and two other students rushed Erickson and tackled him. Erickson fired the gun three more times before the students pried the gun from his hand.
Prosecutors have repeatedly pointed to numerous opportunities Erickson had to tell anyone about the planned shooting. The day began with the two breaking into a gun safe in Erickson’s Highlands Ranch home and swiping three handguns and a rifle, which they smuggled into the school hidden in a backpack and a guitar case.
McKinney filmed the theft, as well as Erickson snorting cocaine, on a cell phone. The idea, McKinney testified, was to make it appear that Erickson was forced into participating. In reality, their plan was for McKinney to die, either by suicide or Erickson would shoot him to appear as the hero, but only after the classroom of students was already dead.
Erickson initially balked when the two approached the classroom, detouring to the school nurse, where he sat for about 10 minutes with a bag of ice. Prosecutors noted he never said a word to the adults there and did not hit the school-wide panic button that likely would have thwarted the shooting.
Instead, he returned to the classroom, where McKinney was on the opposite side. Seconds before the incident unfolded, Erickson texted his alleged accomplice: “Go now.”
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