Accused 16-year-old STEM School shooter pleads guilty

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Alec McKinney wiped his eyes and was crying as he left the courtroom Friday afternoon after pleading guilty to 17 charges related to the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting that left one student, Kendrick Castillo, dead.

“I was shocked, pleased. I mean, this is the road to healing for my wife and I,” said John Castillo, Kendrick Castillo’s father, after learning of the guilty plea. “At the end of the day, no matter what happens in the courtroom, the results are always going to be the same.”

Several of the original charges against McKinney were either dismissed or amended, and at least one count against him was added before he pleaded guilty.

The plea included convictions on first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation and attempted murder after deliberation, among several others.

George Brauchler, the district attorney who handled the case, said he felt satisfied with the proceeding.

“We are inching towards justice here,” said Brauchler. “We’re inching towards closure on something for which there can never truly be genuine closure.”

McKinney, 16, is accused of perpetrating the May 2019 shooting alongside 19-year-old Devon Erickson.

In addition to Kendrick Castillo being killed, eight people were wounded in the shooting.

McKinney’s sentencing is scheduled for May 18 at 9 a.m.

“Due to changes in Colorado law in 2016 by the state legislature, the mandatory minimum sentence for 16-year-old McKinney is life with possibility of parole after 40 years minus earned time. The maximum sentence under the plea agreement is life with the possibility of parole after 40 years minus earned time plus 407½ years in the Department of Corrections,” the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

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