Yesterday, the older of the two suspects in the STEM School Highlands Ranch School shooting appeared in court to enter a plea. Not surprisingly, 18-year-old Devin Erickson pleaded not guilty to 46 charges against him. 44 of those charges are felonies which include first-degree murder for the death of Kendrick Castillo, and eight counts of attempted murder for the other students that were wounded at the Colorado school. If you’ll recall, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo threw himself in front of Erickson to shield other students from gunfire and died from his injuries.
Erickson’s defense has put forth that they will need additional time before trial in order to mount a mental health defense.
In an interview with media after the arraignment, District Attorney George Brauchler said this has a few distinctions from an insanity plea.
“Insanity says, ‘Whether I’m competent now or not, back when I committed that crime, I didn’t know right from wrong based on societal standards and morality and I couldn’t form the culpable mental intent,’ which would be in this case the intent to murder after deliberation,” District Attorney George Brauchler said. “This is different from that. This is them saying, ‘We think we may want to enter some mental health evidence to rebut any portion of accusations against us.'”
For the most part, Erickson has been trying to throw his cohort, 16-year-old Alec McKinney, under the bus. Erickson has said that the younger McKinney forced him into the shooting, yet witnesses have stated that Erickson would allegedly threaten a school shooting routinely.
In that vein, Erickson is said to have told police that he was actually trying to save people on the day of the shooting.
The lead detective in the case for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Brian Pereira, interviewed Erickson twice following the shooting. He said the teen told him his goal was to “save as many lives as possible.” But under questioning by the prosecution the detective indicated there was no evidence of any such attempt to save people.
It was Erickson’s gun that is said to have fired the fatal shot that killed Kendrick Castillo. Erickson claims it was an accident, however…
Pereira said that Erickson told him he fired only one shot by accident striking the one person who died — Kendrick Castillo. But the detective indicated there were multiple shots fired from Erickson’s gun.
In my opinion, there is no coercion here and no diminished mental capacity. I think it’s clear to most people that Erickson willingly went along with the plan and had intended on killing as many people as possible until they’re plans were stopped by Kendrick Castillo at the cost of his own life.
Erickson was 18 at the time of the shooting and is eligible for the death penalty. In most cases, I would support any decision to have a murderer like Erickson executed. However, it’s the dead school shooters that gain followings. If Erickson is executed, to the columbiners and copycats, it looks like he died for ‘the cause’.
Erickson is set to be tried in May.