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Judge announces felony case against STEM School shooter can proceed to trial

Posted at 3:27 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 07:22:46-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY — A Douglas County District Court judge has announced that the felony case against alleged STEM School shooter 19-year old Devon Erickson can proceed to trial. A preliminary hearing started Tuesday to determine if the case would go to trial.

Judge Theresa Michelle Slade ruled Erickson will be held without bond pending his next court appearance.

Prosecutors called the lead investigator on the case, Douglas County Sheriff’s Detective Brian Pereira, to the stand to testify Wednesday morning. He was the only witness called by prosecutors or the defense. He was questioned by prosecutors and cross-examined by Erickson’s defense attorneys through all of Tuesday’s session.

The prosecutors and the defense gave closing arguments before court went to recess. Prosecutors argued – as they have over the past day – that the defense’s argument that Erickson was being forced into the shooting by his alleged co-conspirator, 16-year-old Alec McKinney, was not applicable during a preliminary hearing, whose purpose is determining whether felony charges move forward.

The prosecutors argued the defense could be used at a possible trial, but argued that there was a conspiracy between Erickson and McKinney to plan and commit the shooting and that Erickson was complicit. They claimed that Pereira’s testimony showed a vast number of inconsistencies between the accounts of the two suspects and other friends and witnesses that failed to show that Erickson had been forced into the shooting and not taken part on his own regard.

Regarding the other counts, prosecutors argued they have proven evidence showing he stole the weapons, burned the car, went to school with weapons, blocked the exit, pointed his gun at people and fired four times. They argued that is enough to show those counts should proceed. They also argued that the only reason he could not fire more times was because his gun jammed.

They said his conduct at the school and beforehand constituted him being extremely indifferent to respecting human life.

Defense attorneys argued that the fact that students were injured did not suggest a first-degree intent to murder them, regarding the dozens of attempted murder charges both Erickson and McKinney face, and that some students had claimed they didn’t think Erickson intended to kill 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo intentionally. Castillo was killed in the May 7 shooting and eight other students were injured.

Erickson faces 44 felony counts, including two separate counts of first-degree murder along with dozens of other counts of attempted first-degree murder. He also faces several misdemeanors.

Erickson's arraignment is set for Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m.