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September hearing set for suspect in STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting

The 18-year-old suspect charged in the deadly STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting appeared in court Friday.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — One of two suspects arrested and charged with first-degree murder and other charges related to the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that killed one student and injured eight others appeared in court Friday morning.

During that hearing, a judge set the preliminary hearing for Devon Erickson for late September. Prosecutors had pushed for August, but the defense argued they needed more time to prepare due to the large amount of videos they needed to comb through.

George Brauchler, 18th District district attorney, said the hearing should happen much sooner. 

"This is not a mini trial," Brauchler said. "This not a trial of any kind. It is a hearing to determine if this person should be held without bond and if he should stand before a jury on certain felony charges. I firmly believe that we will be done with our portion of this within a couple few hours. What they have in store, I don’t know."

According to Brauchler, there about 6,000 pages in discovery. Videos include dash and body camera footage.

David Kaplan, one of Erickson's defense attorneys, declined to comment.

Brauchler said more than 75 people came to watch the hearing on behalf of the victims, filling the courtroom and an overflow room.

"The allegations in this case involve a significant number of people," he said. "The crime scene is alleged to take place with many, many students and faculty, so there’s sincere intense interest in this."

Some of those in attendance wore "STEM Strong" shirts and ribbons in the school colors. 

Erickson,18, and 16-year-old Maya McKinney, who goes by Alec, are accused of opening fire at two different locations inside STEM School Highlands Ranch just after 1:50 p.m. on May 7. 

Credit: Family Friend
Kendrick Castillo

Kendrick Castillo,18, was killed when he lunged at one of the suspects who had entered his classroom, according to witnesses. Eight other students were shot and wounded. They have all been released from the hospital.

RELATED: 'We need to be more like him': Kendrick Castillo remembered as selfless, tenacious at celebration of life service

Brauchler said it was "unlikely" for Erickson's affidavit to be released today. The court had previously suppressed the case file.

"There are some things that the court is going to issue some written ruling on that will impact that," Brauchler said. "I wish I could talk more in the details of it. But, until the court utters those magic words: ‘This is un-suppressed,’ I just can’t have that conversation with you."

Brauchler had filed for it to be unsealed and hopes it will happen in "the near future."

"Look I’m all about transparency, and I’m also about making sure that one we don’t negatively influence the investigation which is ongoing," he said. "I also don’t want to do anything that would prejudice a jury in this case either against us or the defense. We’re entitled to a fair trial and I intend to get one."

Erickson's charges include the following:

  • First-degree murder after deliberation (1 count)
  • First-degree murder extreme indifference (1 count)
  • First-degree murder after deliberation conspiracy (1 count)
  • Attempted first-degree murder after deliberation (6 counts)
  • Attempted murder extreme Indifference (25 counts)
  • Second-degree arson damage $100 or more (1 count)
  • Handgun-providing/permitting juvenile to possess (1 count)
  • Third-degree burglary (1 count)
  • Second-degree arson damage $100 or more-conspiracy (1 count)
  • Possession of a weapon on school grounds (1 count)
  • Criminal mischief $1000-$5000 (1 count)
  • Criminal mischief-$1000-$5000 conspiracy (1 count)
  • Theft $2,000-$5,000 (1 count)
  • Theft $2,000-$5,000 conspiracy (1 count)
  • Third-degree burglary conspiracy (1 count)
  • Interference with school (1 count)
  • Reckless endangerment (1 count)
  • Violent crime-causing death or serious bodily injury (a sentence enhancer)
  • Violent crime-weapons used (a sentence enhancer)
Credit: KUSA
Devon Erickson during his first court appearance

He could face the death penalty, although Brauchler said earlier he had done "no analysis of that issue at all." 

RELATED: Juvenile suspect in STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting charged as adult

The other suspect, who is 16, would not be eligible for the death penalty due to his age even though he is charged as an adult. He is charged with numerous counts, including first-degree murder, and is due in court on June 14.

According to Brauchler, the defense plans to request a reverse transfer hearing for McKinney to move the case back to juvenile court.

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