What You Need To Know About The Preliminary Hearing For One Accused STEM Shooter

Pool photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post
STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting suspect Devon Erickson makes a court appearance at the Douglas County Courthouse May 15, 2019, in Castle Rock, Colo.

The 19-year-old accused of taking part in an attack on STEM School Highlands Ranch is scheduled to begin his preliminary hearing at the Douglas County courthouse Tuesday morning.

Devon Erickson was a senior when he allegedly took part in the May 7 shooting that killed his classmate, Kendrick Castillo, and injured others. He's charged with numerous felonies, including first degree murder. 

The preliminary hearing is a chance for prosecutors to give the broad outlines of their case against Erickson. The defense can also make their case for why he should be released on bail. It will be up to the judge to decide whether there's enough evidence to proceed to trial, and if so, whether Erickson should stay behind bars until then.

The judge gave Erickson's lawyers more than three months to prepare for this hearing. In June, they said they'd need the time to review hundreds of hours of videotape, interviews and other evidence.

The second student charged in the attack won't be back in court until later this fall. Prosecutors have charged 16-year-old Alec McKinney as an adult but defense attorneys are trying to get the case moved back to juvenile court.

McKinney is biologically female and court documents use his legal name, Maya. McKinney identifies as male and uses the name Alec.

A probable cause document released in June contains a synopsis of what investigators believe led up to the attack. Officers who interviewed McKinney reported that he said "he wanted the kids at the school to experience bad things, have to suffer from trauma like he had had to in his life. He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place."

McKinney told officers he specifically targeted two students who "always made fun of him, 'hated him' [sic] called him names and said he was disgusting for trying to be a guy."

During questioning, Erickson told officers that he first learned of the planned attack when he received a Snapchat from McKinney the night before, warning him not to go to school. He told officers he considered warning authorities at several points, but after being threatened by McKinney, ended up going along with his plans.

The two allegedly broke into a gun safe at Erickson's house and brought the stolen weapons to STEM School, targeting a specific classroom. Erickson said he only fired by accident after being tackled by several students. McKinney said he emptied two handguns before fleeing with a third. He was taken into custody in a hallway outside the classroom.