STEM shooter testifies against alleged helper

Both allege the other planned the attack

In his second day of testimony, an admitted shooter of the STEM School Highlands Ranch reversed the story he told immediately following the May 7, 2019 attack.
Alec McKinney, while testifying in the trial against Devon Erickson on June 9, relayed a version of events that alleged Erickson propelled the deadly shooting into action.
“It was (Erickson’s) fault the entire time,” McKinney said during his testimony. “Just in that first interview I wasn’t being completely honest.”
McKinney pleaded guilty to dozens of charges in 2020 and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 40 years. During cross examination, Erickson’s defense team implied that McKinney had changed his story in the hopes of getting a reduced sentence.
Erickson faces similar charges to McKinney, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and arson. Opening statements in the case began May 27 and the trial was set to last into late June. 
Julia Stancil, one of Erickson’s attorneys, questioned McKinney about his understanding of the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program, which allows juvenile offenders to get a chance at being released earlier than their initial sentence.
McKinney, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, acknowledged that he knew the program was a possibility for him but said that wasn’t the reason for his change in story. Instead, McKinney said he was telling this version of events because he was sober and under oath.
During his testimony, McKinney, now 18, also contradicted earlier statements to police and medical staff that he heard voices in his head the day of the shooting and was homicidal.
“The majority of what I said wasn’t truthful,” McKinney said about his statements from 2019.
In response to questions from Stancil, McKinney said he knew that in order for someone to be eligible for the juvenile early release program, they cannot have a serious mental health disorder, they must accept the criminal behavior he engaged in and they must show positive growth and changes in their behavior.
Stancil pointed out that McKinney’s plea agreement with the district attorney’s office, which included a plan to testify against Erickson, was signed one week after Erickson pleaded not guilty. 
McKinney’s lawyers were both present in the courtroom during his testimony. 


Kendrick saves lives

During McKinney’s testimony, John Castillo, whose son Kendrick was killed May 7 while rushing Erickson in an attempt to stop the attack, looked for any emotion on the defendant’s face but didn't see any, he said.
“This brings great pain to us but we know it’s necessary pain so the jury can hear the full story,” Castillo said.
Castillo said he believes McKinney’s newest version of events is accurate.
“Despite (that) they’re an evil domestic terrorist … I think their testimony carries some value,” he said.
One thing that stood out to Castillo about McKinney’s testimony is the extent of the plan for that day. McKinney said no one in the room was supposed to survive.
“Had (Kendrick) made any other decision, his death would have happened regardless,” Castillo said. “We wish there were different options and he could save his life, but he saved so many people.”

McKinney’s new testimony

While being questioned by the prosecution, McKinney told an entirely new version of events than what was conveyed to police immediately following the shooting. On that day, May 7, 2019, both alleged shooters said McKinney had forced Erickson to participate. 
There were also two videos filmed by McKinney that day that appeared to depict him forcing Erickson to consume cocaine and pry open a gun case to retrieve the firearms used in the attack. 
In his latest telling of the events, however, McKinney said those videos were staged and that he took multiple videos until one felt convincing enough.
Other evidence the defense has used to demonstrate that McKinney was bullying Erickson into participating includes social media and text messages from McKinney. Now, McKinney says he sent those intentionally “so it would sound more like I was forcing him,” he said.
While he testified, McKinney appeared to be intermittently crying. He began his testimony the previous afternoon.
While the defense has maintained that McKinney was the driving force in this attack, the convicted shooter now says Erickson was the mastermind behind the plan. McKinney said it was Erickson who loaded the guns, Erickson who suggested smuggling them in using a guitar case and Erickson who hated the kids in Room 107.
Though McKinney implied earlier in his testimony that it was Erickson’s fault, he later said neither of them were forced to participate and neither of them stopped it from happening.
“I believe we share equal responsibility for everything that happened,” he said.
Alec McKinney, Devon Erickson, STEM School, school shooting, Highlands Ranch Colorado, Elliott Wenzler


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