STEM school gunman sentenced to life without parole
More than two years after the STEM school shooting left one dead, eight injured and countless scars, Devon Erickson, one of the shooters, was sentenced to hundreds of years in prison in addition to ‘a life sentence without the possibility of parole. .
Slade pointed out that Erickson did not speak at his trial or hearing, but people who were not involved in the shooting took the time to write letters. She also said the only time she saw him show any emotion was when his family spoke about what he was going to miss while he served a life sentence.
She read the sentences for each of Erickson’s convicted crimes and the names of the people who survived his attack.
âEach of these people suffered and survived what you did,â Slade said. “Each of these people deserves recognition and you must serve, whether academically or not, a sentence for what you have done to each of these people.”
In June, Erickson was convicted of all 46 counts against him, including three counts of first degree murder for killing his classmate Kendrick Ray Castillo.
âKendrick was smart, kind, full of energy. Full of dreams,â said Maria Castillo, Kendrick’s mother.
The mandatory sentence in Colorado for an adult convicted of first degree murder is life without parole. Erickson was 18 at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors have called for a report to be prepared recommending the sentence and summarizing the evidence from the trial, which could deter a future governor from considering leniency for Erickson.
The sentencing hearing was set for Friday to allow victims and their families to tell the court about their experiences during the attack and its aftermath. More than two dozen people spoke, including parents, teachers and other students.
Castillo, 18, was days away from graduating from high school when he was killed.
âI’m afraid I’ll forget what it was like to be happy with him. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to relive the happiness like I did in those moments with Kendrick, âsaid Alison Thompson, one of Castillo’s best friends, who spoke at the hearing. âI have never met someone who could make everyone around them so happy, so easily. Now he’s gone.
Castillo and two other students, Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones, have indicted Erickson. The students of British Literature were watching the ‘Princess Bride’ when the shooters entered and started shooting.
âI know what it’s like to be in total chaos in seconds. I know what it’s like not knowing where your friends, siblings, people you love are for hours. Jones said in a tearful statement to the courtroom. “I know what it’s like to have a sore leg, because that’s where someone you thought you knew shot you twice.”
Jones, like everyone else who spoke, called for Erickson to receive the maximum possible sentence.
âI know so much more than I should about someone my age, about someone who hasn’t done much,â he said. “I know (Erickson) really doesn’t care.”
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said police and other rescue workers would not forget the incident.
“I was at the scene that day, and saw my assistants transporting victims from school, rushing them to ambulances and paramedics,” he said. “All the lives of these victims have been changed.”
Erickson and second shooter Alec McKinney stole guns from a safe in Erickson’s family home, according to Snapchat videos McKinney took that day. Erickson then snorted cocaine before the two hid the guns in backpacks and a guitar case and headed for school.
During the hearing, Erickson’s family expressed their condolences and remorse for those affected by their son’s actions. They told stories about Erickson’s accomplishments and said they love him unconditionally.
Erickson’s grandfather Joe Hershfeldt said his grandson was a good person who made a terrible mistake.
âHe has always had a special place in my heart. In fact, he’s not just my grandson, he’s my best friend. Hershfeldt said. âHe brought a lot of joy and happiness to me and to our whole family. “
Erickson’s father listed the names of the students who were injured and killed in the shooting and offered his condolences to those affected by his son.
âWe know Devon is very sorry for what happened. He told us that,â said Jim Erickson, Devon’s father. âWe still don’t understand how he came to be involved in an event as well. tragic. We’re always blown away that something like this could happen. It’s totally out of his character for him. He cared about others. “
McKinney, who was 16 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, but due to a new law he will be eligible for parole after 25 years. At his sentencing hearing in June, McKinney apologized to Castillo’s parents and vowed to change.
âI don’t want you ever to think Kendrick died in vain,â McKinney said, speaking directly to the Castillos during his hearing. âEvery day I wake up and try to do something positive. I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it for Kendrickâ¦ I promise to live my life like a new person.