Colorado School Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CN) – A Colorado man charged in a school shooting that left a classmate dead and injured eight others pleaded not guilty to four dozen criminal charges Thursday.

Devon Erickson, 19, was arrested after the May 7 attack and faces 48 felony charges including multiple counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say Erickson and Alec McKinney, then 16, opened fire on a senior British literature class at STEM School Highlands Ranch, killing 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo when he charged the suspects.

Friends and community members left flowers, stuffed animals, and cans of Coca-Cola outside STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado in honor of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed trying to thwart a May 7, 2019, shooting at the school. (Amanda Pampuro / CNS)

Erickson’s defense attorney Dan Kaplan of Denver firm Haddon Morgan Foreman gave the court notice that evidence of a mental condition may be entered prior to trial in order to preserve the ability to mount an insanity defense in the future.

“Under the circumstance, we don’t feel ready to enter it, but at the risk of losing the ability to enter it, we’ll give notice of a desire to enter evidence of a mental condition down the road,” Kaplan said.

Colorado law allows an insanity defense or evidence of a mental condition to be entered after arraignment if the defense has good cause to do so. Judge Theresa Slade denied Kaplan’s request for clarity on how she would rule on a request if made, since a request may never be made.

After holiday-related delays, Erickson is scheduled to undergo mental health evaluation in January. But District Attorney George Brauchler is ready to keep the case moving.

“It’s been 240 days since this crime was committed,” Brauchler said.

The prosecution has 62 days to decide whether to pursue the death penalty, though Brauchler did not indicate his intentions Thursday.

Erickson’s 3-week trial is scheduled to begin May 26, with jury selection to occur the week before.

While the weapons were owned by Erickson’s father – and locked in his gun safe – Erickson’s defense attorneys have previously contended McKinney made Erickson break open the safe with an ax, load the weapons and sneak them into school in a guitar case.

McKinney, who is being charged as an adult, is slated to return to court in February for arraignment. It is not clear how he will plead.

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