Two teenage students accused of fatally shooting one classmate and wounding eight in a suburban Denver school made separate court appearances on Wednesday, a day after their arrest on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
Douglas County District Judge Theresa Slade, who presided over both proceedings, ordered the two suspects to remain held without bond pending their next court hearings, set for Friday, when formal charges are expected to be filed.
The two youths are accused of opening fire with handguns on fellow students on Tuesday in two classrooms at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Denver.
They were arrested by police after several students under fire at the school fought back, including a young U.S. Marine recruit, Brendan Bialy, who survived, and 18-year-old robotics enthusiast Kendrick Ray Castillo, who was killed.
Castillo’s father, John Castillo, told the Denver Fox news affiliate Fox 31, that his son, “gave up his life for others.”
“If he didn’t do it, what would this mess look like?” he said.
The first defendant, Devon Erickson, 18, who prosecutors said they were treating as an adult, sat silently at a small table with his head bowed, hands shackled to his waist, flanked by two defense lawyers as a pair of sheriff’s deputies stood just behind them.
Slight of build with longish, unkempt black hair partially dyed bright lavender, Erickson wore an orange-red jail uniform.
His 16-year-old accused accomplice, referred to in court by his lawyer as Alec McKinney, was listed on the court docket by the name Maya Elizabeth McKinney but was addressed by the judge during the hearing as Mr McKinney.
Denver’s ABC television affiliate, citing an unidentified police source, has reported that the younger suspect identified as transgender and had been bullied for it.
Erickson’s hearing was televised live, but the judge closed McKinney’s hearing to cameras. District Attorney George Brauchler said he would decide by Friday whether to charge McKinney as a juvenile or adult.
Dressed in dark blue jail garb with short-cropped brown hair, McKinney said little in court except to answer softly, “No your honor,” when the judge asked the defendant if there were any questions. The judge refused a defense request to unshackle McKinney for the hearing.
No pleas were entered.
Photo credit: New straits times