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Crime and Courts

STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting trial in jury’s hands

During closing arguments, prosecutors said the defendant "knew exactly what he was doing," while the defense claimed "there was no plan"

A Douglas County Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle outside of STEM School Highlands Ranch following a shooting that left one student dead and eight others wounded on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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Seconds before shots rang out in Room 107 at STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7, 2019, an armed Devon Erickson sent a message to his friend, who also had guns in his bag.

“Go now,” he wrote, according to phone records.

Prosecutors in the case against Erickson focused on that message along with physical evidence, eyewitness testimonies and other messages between the two alleged gunmen during their closing argument on Monday.

“On May 7, 2019, the defendant … along with his suicidal friend, made war on a class full of students and a couple teachers,” said prosecutor George Brauchler, the former district attorney for the 18th Judicial District who stayed on with the office after his term ended so he could finish the trial.

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After 10 days of testimony, both the prosecution and defense have rested their cases and given closing statements. Now, it’s up to the jury to determine Erickson’s fate.

Erickson pleaded not guilty to 46 charges in January of 2020, including first-degree murder and 31 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

During closing arguments, David Kaplan, one of the private attorneys representing Erickson, focused on breaking down the prosecution’s narrative that there was a grand scheme for the shooting.

“There was no plan,” he said. “There was no great design.”

Kaplan acknowledged in his closing argument that Erickson does hold some responsibility for what happened that day but asked the jury to consider if it was truly the defendant’s intent to kill students.

Brauchler called for the jury to find Erickson guilty of all charges.

“The defendant knew exactly what he was doing,” Brauchler said. “Hold this guy accountable for what he did.”

Read more at the Douglas County News-Press.

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