Jury finds STEM school shooter guilty of first degree murder
This is a developing story and will be updated.
A jury has found Devon Erickson guilty of first degree murder for the murder of his classmate Kendrick Castillo in an attack on STEM Highlands Ranch school two years ago.
The verdict carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
In total, the jury convicted Erickson on the 48 criminal charges he faced for his role in the shooting.
In addition to Castillo, eight other students were shot and wounded in the attack on a literature classroom on May 7, 2019.
Erickson and his co-defendant Alec McKinney had only been friends for a few months before the attack, but lawyers describe Erickson fell in love with McKinney, who testified that he was both suicidal and murderous at the time.
The two often joked about the school shootings and idolized Sol Pais, a Florida woman who traveled to Colorado due to her fascination with the Columbine High School attack. Her online posts led authorities to shut down hundreds of schools before authorities found out that she had committed suicide.
McKinney, who pleaded guilty to his role in the shooting last year, testified that he and Erickson had a “bucket list” eager to get away with murder and they ultimately settled on a shootout in a school a few weeks before the end of the school year.
On the day of the attack, the pair lined up cocaine and broke into Erickson’s father’s safe before heading to school armed with two guns each in carrying cases.
Security cameras show the two separated when they entered the building.
Erickson went to class and told his teacher he was feeling bad and had to go to the nurse’s office. Inside the office, he lay in the dark for a few minutes and communicated with McKinney via messages. He went back to class and told the nurse he was feeling better.
At one point, McKinney sent a message, “I’m not doing this without you.
And just before the shooting started, Erickson replied, “Go ahead now.”
In the classroom, testimonies from numerous students, teachers and law enforcement officials, Erickson removed the magnetic strip from the door, essentially locking it from the outside, pulled a pistol out of a holster. guitar and shouted, “nobody f — — move!” He was pointing the gun at the ceiling.
The lights were out in the room for a movie and some students were confused, but three, led by Castillo, rushed at Erickson. His gun fired, hitting Castillo in the chest. Erickson then pulled the trigger four more times, hitting and injuring two other students.
One of them, Joshua Jones, testified that in trying to get the weapon out of Erickson’s hands, he resisted and tried to fight him.
From across the room, McKinney entered through a different door and started shooting people simultaneously, injuring several other students.