DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colorado — The 16-year-old suspect in the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch appeared in court for a status hearing Friday morning.
Maya McKinney, a transgender male who the judge agreed to refer to as Alec, and 18-year-old Devon Erickson are accused of opening fire in two different locations inside of the school on May 7. One student, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, was killed when he lunged at one of the suspects who entered his classroom, witnesses said. Eight other students were wounded in the attack.
McKinney now faces multiple charges in the attack, including first-degree murder. Due to his age, he will not be eligible for the death penalty in the case.
During Friday’s court date, the judge set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 18. The defense also brought up numerous motions – including one that would close the courtroom during future hearings – that were denied.
"There's no way that this juvenile will get a fair trial in Douglas County," Ara Ohanian, defense attorney, said in court.
District Attorney George Brauchler said this case has to remain open to the public.
"In this particular case, the statute is clear that the victims who want to be a part of this process have the ability to be part of this process at every single important part of this case," Brauchler said.
The defense also called the mountain of evidence in the case difficult to handle. Ohanian said he has received more than 21,000 items of evidence including 600 hours of audio and video and 7,720 images.
The courtroom was packed with STEM parents and students.
"I think clearly this is a case that matters to this community and most of the people in there were directly affected by this," Brauchler said.
Erickson is slated to appear in court for a preliminary hearing in late September.
The arrest affidavit in the case remains sealed, but Brauchler has filed for it to be released and hopes it will happen in the near future.
The preliminary hearing for McKinney is set for November 18. If the court upholds the charges, the judge will immediately start a Reverse Transfer hearing which would determine if the 16-year-old will remain charged as an adult or be sent back to juvenile court.
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