DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Douglas County jury reached a verdict in the murder trial for Devon Erickson on June 15, 2021. They convicted the teenager of murder in the first degree after deliberation in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in May of 2019.
The overwhelming evidence against Erickson was apparent by the relatively short amount of time it took a jury to reach a verdict.
Erickson faced 48 charges. The jury found him guilty of 46 charges including criminal attempt to commit murder in the first degree-extreme indifference, arson and criminal mischief.
The two remaining charges were sentence enhancers for charges of violent crime causing death or serious bodily injury and violent crime using a weapon. The jury did not have to decide on what come up at sentencing.
Kendrick Castillo died in the shooting trying to stop the gunmen.
Family members and STEM students who were in the Highland Ranch school that day expressed their relief in hugs and tears.
Kendrick’s father, John, spoke after the verdict was read.
“We get signs from him I believe. We think he was probably helping the jurors with their decision,” he said.
It’s been two painful years since that terrifying day when Alec McKinney and Erickson entered a British Literature classroom and opened fire on the students. Mitchell Kraus was of those in room 107 who was shot and grateful for the verdict.
“He is never going to breathe a breath of fresh air again. Kendrick is not coming back,” he said.
At a news conference there was gratitude from the STEM community expressed for the sheriff’s department that came to the rescue that day and the prosecutors who have gotten two convictions. But no verdict can bring Kendrick Castillo back his father added,
“We wlll never stop missing him. We will never stop honoring him. This day was justice for him.”
At a news conference, there was gratitude from the STEM community expressed for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office that came to the rescue that day and the prosecutors who have gotten two convictions. But no verdict can bring Kendrick Castillo back his father added.
“We will never stop missing him. We will never stop honoring him. This day was justice for him.”
Both the prosecution and defense delivered their closing arguments on Monday — nearly three weeks after the trial started.
Last week, the defense tried to convince a jury that Erickson’s judgement was clouded by heavy drug use.
The defense called a psychology professor to the stand to explain how it is possible Erickson could have fired the gun involuntarily. A toxicology expert then testified that Erickson’s thinking was clouded by heavy use of cocaine, THC and perhaps a cough syrup-type drug.
Alec McKinney, the second student involved in the deadly shooting, testified on behalf of the prosecution. McKinney told the jury he and Erickson planned and carried out the shooting together.
The defense maintained Erickson was under the control of McKinney and threatened him with his life if he didn’t carry out the shooting.
McKinney has already pleaded guilty to the shooting and is serving a life sentence.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement following the verdict reading:
“Just over two years ago we lost a real Colorado hero who died trying to protect others. Kendrick Castillo’s bravery will never be forgotten. While we cannot bring Kendrick back, we can find solace in the fact that the people responsible for this tragic and unthinkable event will be held accountable. My heart is with John and Maria at this moment, and all of the lives Kendrick touched.”
Erickson faces the possibility of life without parole in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. The prosecution requested all victims be present for the sentencing which the judge noted would require several weeks of preparation.