(CN) — A Colorado judge on Thursday found prosecutors presented adequate evidence to try a 22-year-old suspect of a mass shooting committed at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs this past November.
“Probable cause has been established under the standard and the court is binding Anderson Aldrich over,” said Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry.
Authorities say Anderson Lee Aldrich killed five people and injured 22 others during a dance party at Club Q, an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19. The shooting occurred the evening before Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors those who have suffered violence.
Aldrich faces more than 300 charges including first degree murder, attempted murder, serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon and bias motivated crime, colloquially referred to as hate crime.
Aldrich identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they and them. If convicted, they face life in prison without parole. Colorado repealed the death penalty in 2020.
Defense attorneys objected to accusations Aldrich had committed a hate crime by targeting an LGBTQ-friendly space.
“Over the months since, we’ve been poring over the evidence looking for bias and motivation,” public defender Joseph Archambault told the court. “The incident took place at a location that is welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, but occurring in a space that welcomes them does not make it a crime against the group. That would mean an attack that takes place in a women’s rest room is an attack against women.”
Archambault said the evidence lacked typical hallmarks of hate crimes like a manifesto from the assailant or a collection of quotes from homophobic politicians.
“What the court has is not evidence of someone who hates that community, but someone who was on a lot of drugs, and was not accepted for being gay,” Archambault argued.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen countered the law is much broader.
“The statute says crimes committed in whole or in part because of actual or perceived bias,” Allen said.
McHenry allowed the bias motivated charges to stand and scheduled arraignment for May 30, which he hoped would give Aldrich’s defense team enough time to complete a mental health evaluation.
Detectives with the Colorado Springs Police Department found Aldrich had attended Club Q at least six times prior to the shooting, and had drawn a map of the layout. In October, a receipt indicated Aldrich was served by bartender Derrick Rump, 38, who would be one of the five killed in November.
Kelly Loving, 40, Daniel Aston, 28, Ashley Paugh, 35, and Raymond Green Vance, 22, also died during the attack. Seventeen others suffered gunshot wounds. Law enforcement credit two bystanders, Thomas James and Richard Fierro, with disarming and holding Aldrich down until police arrived.
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