CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – Alec McKinney, one of the two Colorado students charged in the STEM School Highlands Ranch Shooting, pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon.
The May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch killed student Kendrick Castillo and injured eight others. Castillo, 18, was killed in the shooting after he and two other students rushed one of the shooters who opened fire in the classroom.
Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, said McKinney’s guilty plea on Friday was an outcome for which he had been hoping.
“Shocked, pleased, I mean, this is the road to healing for my wife and I,” John said. “At the end of the day, no matter what happens in the courtroom, the results are always going to be the same.”
McKinney was being tried as an adult although he was a juvenile at the time of the shooting.
McKinney pleaded guilty to 17 counts related to the shooting including:
• first-degree murder in the death of Kendrick Castillo;
• conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation;
• 6 counts of attempted murder after deliberation
• attempted murder extreme indifference (this count is amended to name everyone who was not physically shot in room 107)
• second-degree assault (this count identifies the victims who were injured as a result of the security guard’s response to the active shooter situation)
• conspiracy to commit arson
• conspiracy to commit burglary
• conspiracy to commit criminal mischief
• possession of a weapon on school grounds
• possession of a handgun by a juvenile
• 2 crime-of-violence sentence enhancers
Other charged counts were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 18 at 9 a.m.
According to the district attorney, “due to changes in Colorado law in 2016 by the state legislature, the mandatory minimum sentence for 16-year-old McKinney is life with possibility of parole after 40 years minus earned time. The maximum sentence under the plea agreement is life with the possibility of parole after 40 years minus earned time plus 407½ years in the Department of Corrections.”
D.A. George Brauchler said McKinney has shown remorse for his actions.
John Castillo said he wants to see legislative changes to create harsher sentences for juvenile offenders. He says he’s also working to educate the community to take these matters seriously.
“Because, no matter what bills are drawn up and at the capitol, if we don’t get our communities behind them and understand them, it really doesn’t matter, you know, they’d just be shelved and they get put back in there until they recirculate again, meanwhile, there is a countdown clock to possibly another event, and nobody wants that,” John said.
In September 2019, a judge found that McKinney’s alleged accomplice, 19-year-old Devon Erickson, could be prosecuted on 44 charges that include murder and attempted murder. Erickson pleaded not guilty in January.
Asked if Erickson was pursuing a possible plea deal, as well, Brauchler said there hadn’t been any meetings with Erickson on that issue.