Colorado STEM school shooting suspect sentenced to life in prison

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One of two suspects in the STEM school shooting in a Denver suburb that killed a student and injured eight others last year was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole over 38 years on Friday.

Alec McKinney, who was 16 at the time of the shooting but charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and 16 other counts in February after admitting to authorities that he had planned the attacked and recruited his classmate Devon Erickson to carry it out. .

“I don’t deserve mercy or forgiveness. I don’t want a lighter sentence. All I want is to take this opportunity to speak for myself and apologize for what I have done, ”McKinney said at the hearing, according to local reporters. . “I will never hurt anyone again.” ”

On May 7, 2019, authorities said McKinney and Erickson opened fire at a British literature class at Highlands Ranch School, killing 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo and injuring several other students.

Under a plea deal, McKinney was sentenced to a maximum sentence of “life with the possibility of parole after 40 years less time saved plus 407½ years,” according to prosecutors.

George Brauchler, the District Attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, told reporters after the hearing he was disappointed with the length of the sentence, noting that McKinney would be eligible for parole at 40, “young enough to have a family, have a career, [and] Be happy. ”

“The message I wanted to send to this community – and it goes way beyond this community – is that if you get involved in the planning and execution of a mass school shooting, you should expect that the system tries to take a single second of your freedom from you, ”Brauchler said. “And we haven’t received that sentence today. ”

Castillo’s parents were among more than 20 witnesses and victims who testified in the all-day virtual hearing, telling McKinney they would never forgive him.

“This killer is a monster,” Kendrick’s father John Castillo said, according to CBS Denver. “You took something from me that can never be replaced. … You took my goal. … I will never find peace.

During his remarks, McKinney told the Castillos that every day he tries to “do something positive” on behalf of their son and encourages those who may be considering having a school shooting to “get some good luck”. help”.

McKinney, who is transgender, had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues. He had said he wanted STEM students “to suffer from trauma like he’s had in his life,” according to an affidavit.

“Don’t be cowardly and hide behind a gun,” he said. “Be courageous and learn to get help. ”

Erickson has pleaded not guilty to more than 40 counts arising from the incident. He is due to be tried in September.

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