Accused STEM School shooter pleads not guilty; mental condition might be part of defense

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — One of the accused STEM School Highlands Ranch shooters pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in a Douglas County courtroom Thursday.  Devon Erickson is facing 44 felony counts for his alleged role in the deadly STEM school shooting last school year.

Erickson’s attorneys asked the judge for more time to evaluate their client’s mental condition before entering a plea in the case, but a judge denied the request and set the trial date for May 26, 2020.

“It’s time for us to move forward with getting this case set — making sure that everyone’s rights are protected and due process is had. But you know, we’re going to have our day in court. My preference is that we get it done this year,” said George Brauchler, the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District.

Brauchler said he now has 62 days to decide whether he will pursue the death penalty, but he has not yet made a decision.

Defense attorney David Kaplan told the court he might use his client’s mental condition as part of Erickson’s defense, but he has not had enough time to meet with experts who can properly evaluate Erickson’s condition.

“I’m a lawyer. I’m not a doctor or an expert in this case, and that’s what I was searching for so that I could be better qualified and more competent to talk to him and talk to his family and discuss the very issues that are being raised now,” he said.

Because Kaplan said he might use Erickson’s mental condition as part of the defense, a judge told Erickson he would have to undergo a mental exam conducted by a state psychologist or psychiatrist. The exam would be videotaped and provided to both the prosecution and the defense.

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