DENVER: One of two former students accused in a fatal shooting at a suburban Denver school in 2019 was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and other crimes Tuesday.
The verdict against Devon Erickson came a day after lawyers delivered closing arguments in his trial. Prosecutors said Erickson, now 20, was a full partner with Alec McKinney in the shooting that killed one student at STEM School Highlands Ranch in an incorporated suburban community south of Denver. The shooting happened in the high school portion of the school, which had all grades.
Defense attorneys argued that Erickson was manipulated and pressured into participating by his younger friend. McKinney testified against Erickson after pleading guilty last year.
During closing arguments, defense lawyer David Kaplan told jurors that the shooting that killed 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo unfolded without a true plan and happened only after Erickson, who was sent to the nurses office after he looked sick, got a threatening message from McKinney to help with the attack.
The defense also raised the possibility that Castillo, one of three students hailed as heroes for rushing Erickson after he pulled out a gun, was accidentally shot as he tackled Erickson.
The prosecution disputed the accidental shooting theory, saying that was not likely given the positioning of the two. Two other students struggled to get Erickson to give up his gun after Castillo was shot, prosecutors said.
As the verdict for each count was read, Erickson stood nearly motionless, hands clasped in front of him, staring straight ahead and blinking. Prosecutor George Brauchler bowed his head as the first guilty verdict was read.
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