STEM School shooting trial again delayed

Trial might take place outside of courtroom amid pandemic


The forthcoming trial in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting case has been pushed back by months again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Devon Erickson, 20, is now scheduled to begin trial on May 24 for his suspected role in the shooting that left senior Kendrick Castillo dead and eight more students injured. Previous trial dates — including February, September and July trials — were also pushed back because of COVID-19.

Erickson faces numerous charges, including felony murder, in connection with the shooting. He pleaded not guilty in January 2020. Alec McKinney, 17, pleaded guilty to similar charges in February and was sentenced to life in prison plus 38 year, with the possibility of parole after 40 years in July.

One more key logistic remains unclear: whether the trial will take place at the courthouse in Castle Rock. Amid continued social distancing requirements, the court may need to find an off-site location to accommodate pandemic restrictions, District Court Judge Theresa Slade said during a Jan. 15 hearing.

The defendant's next court appearance will be in April, when attorneys will gather with Slade to further discuss details of holding the proceedings during the public health crisis.

A spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office said the district has not held hearings at another venue to date during the pandemic.

Attorneys also spent much of the Jan. 15 hearing debating whether the public defender's office, which is representing McKinney, and the district attorney's office could provide medical records for McKinney to Erickson's defense attorneys, which they had subpoenaed.

Defense attorney Julia Stancil said the team is aware of roughly 2,100 pages of records provided to the prosecution by McKinney's attorney Ara Ohanian.

The records could include information about his mental state and motive. They would also detail where he received mental health treatment or was prescribed medications, she said, arguing all was information that might aid prosecutors in preparation for trial.

“Mr. McKinney is the key and main witness against my client,” Stancil said.

Stancil said the district attorney's office was unsure if it could provide the defense with the records because of protective order but that Slade could rule on the matter to clear way for handing over the documents.

Slade told the defense to conduct more “due diligence” and first attempt to interview Ohanian's client or subpoena the records from the various agencies that created them.


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