Accused STEM Shooter Will Not Face Death If Convicted, District Attorney George Brauchler Says

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
STEM School Highlands Ranch alleged shooter Alec McKinney was in a Douglas County courtroom Monday Dec. 16 2019 for arraignment, but the judge in the case granted a defense motion a delay in the case. District Attorney George Brauchler before the hearing.

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said Thursday he will not seek the death penalty for alleged STEM school shooter Devon Erickson. 

Erickson, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, faces more than 40 felony charges in the May 2019 incident in Highlands Ranch, in which Erickson’s classmate Kendrick Castillo was killed and eight others were injured. 

Erickson was charged with his friend, then-16 year-old Alec McKinney, who also opened fire in the classroom. McKinney, who was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty last month. 

The decision comes a week after the legislature voted to abolish the death penalty in Colorado. That legislation, which would not have prevented Brauchler from seeking death for Erickson, is awaiting the signature of Gov. Jared Polis, who has said previously he would approve it.

Brauchler was critical of the legislature’s move on Thursday at a criminal justice reform conference, after announcing his decision on Erickson.

“Whether you agree or disagree with what the legislature or the governor is going to do, once that tool is gone we will have for the first time anywhere in the criminal code created a one-size-fits-all sentence with the most heinous crime on the books, that’s first-degree murder,” Brauchler said. “The removal of the ability to consider or approach with an extra tool … I don’t think it makes us any better or stronger.”