The 23-year-old accused of murdering five people and injuring 17 others at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub last year is expected to plead guilty to murder and hate crime charges today in a Colorado Springs courtroom.
Anderson Lee Aldrich and their defense attorneys have agreed to a plea deal in state court that would ensure life in prison without the possibility of parole, a source familiar with the case confirmed to CPR News.
After the plea, the judge is expected to immediately move forward with a sentencing hearing, which could last throughout the day. Victims will have the right to read statements aloud about how the shooting affected them to the defendant.
Prosecutors say the defendant walked into the nightclub on Nov. 19 and indiscriminately began firing a semi-automatic weapon ultimately killing Raymond Green Vance, 22, Daniel Aston, 28, Ashley Paugh, 35, Derrick Rump, 38 and Kelly Loving, 40.
In a court filing, public defenders said their client identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
At the February preliminary hearing, a Colorado Springs detective testified the shooter had been to Club Q six times over the course of about a year, buying drinks, doing karaoke and attending a drag show.
For some victims and survivors of the shooting, the prospect of a resolution on Monday is both an emotional relief and a point of exhaustion and frustration.
Related: Those we lost in the Club Q shooting
At a recent press conference in Colorado Springs, Adriana Vance spoke about her life in the time since her son, Raymond, was killed at Club Q.
"We have to keep coming out here and opening up these wounds while we're trying to go on and continue with our daily lives," she said, speaking about the difficulty she's had accessing funds donated for survivors. "I haven't been able to properly grieve my son."
Vance is one of the many people affected by the attack who plan to attend the Monday hearing.
“We have this person that tried to end all of our lives and ended five lives … and we have to face that,” said James Slaugh, a Club Q survivor. Slaugh was at the club with his fiance and sister and was shot multiple times. “We have to see what that verdict is, so it's been rough on all of us in terms of that."
On Club Q’s Facebook page, the club issued a statement saying they look forward to having justice in this case.
“It is our hope that the deliverance of justice will allow victims and survivors to foster healing, find closure and begin to find peace,” the statement said. “It is quite evident that the defendant deserves to live life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
The plea deal was first reported by the Associated Press earlier this month. In that story, the suspect told reporters from jail that they felt remorse for what happened and wanted to take responsibility. They have been incarcerated since their arrest last year and face 323 state charges. The suspect could potentially face federal hate crimes charges, though the counts have yet to be filed.
It was unclear whether the potential filing of federal charges were a part of this plea deal and officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case.
Previous coverage of the Club Q suspect in court:
- Suspect in Colorado Springs Club Q shooting to be tried on hate crime, murder charges
- Accused Club Q shooter appears in court for first day of preliminary hearings
- Judge denies motion to hold El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in contempt for Club Q media leak
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