STEM shooting suspect makes court appearance

Court to call jury pool of 600 people for socially-distanced trial

Jessica Gibbs
jgibbs@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/9/21

The adult suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting case appeared in court for one of his final hearings before going to trial this spring. During the April 9 pre-trial conference in Castle …

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STEM shooting suspect makes court appearance

Court to call jury pool of 600 people for socially-distanced trial

Posted

The adult suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting case appeared in court for one of his final hearings before going to trial this spring.

During the April 9 pre-trial conference in Castle Rock, attorneys and District Court Judge Theresa Slade settled on dates for jury selection and discussed how pandemic precautions might shake up proceedings.

Devon Erickson, 20, faces dozens of charges including felony first-degree murder for his role in the shooting that left 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo dead and eight other students injured on May 7, 2019. He appeared in court alongside his attorneys David Kaplan and Julia Stancil.

Former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who was asked to stay on the case by District Attorney John Kellner after leaving office, appeared for the prosecution with Chief Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Gleason and Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Wilcox.

The court will call a jury pool of 600 people for the May 24 trial, Slade said. Defense attorneys and prosecutors will have roughly a week to conduct jury selection at a Marriott hotel.

The facility will accommodate social distancing during jury selection, but opening statements will take place back in the courtroom, Slade said.

It's unclear exactly what precautions will be required come trial time, she said. The state is set to let its dial system lapse before the case goes to trial, but the Tri-County Health Department could still impose its own at the local level in Douglas County and plans to extend its dial for another 30 days through mid-May.

And Slade said she could not guarantee what capacity limits might be in place during proceedings, cautioning attorneys to account for that.

The jury alone would take up roughly half the courtroom once socially distanced, she said.

The prosecution said it might have up to 29 people wishing to attend in-person, with about 10 of those individuals needing to attend daily. That does not include its six-person team handling the case.

Defense attorneys told Slade they would request space for their five-person team plus an additional 10 people they need to participate in proceedings.

As of now attendees will be required to space six feet apart, wear masks and disinfect the podium in between witnesses. Slade said the court intends to livestream the trial and provide overflow rooms at the courthouse.

The trial is scheduled through late June and will mark the end to a case long drawn out by COVID-19. The younger suspect, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty and last year was sentenced to life in prison plus 38 years, with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

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