Convicted School Shooter Devon Erickson to Serve Life Sentence Without Parole

Convicted school shooter Devon Erickson is slated to be sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Erickson was convicted in June of all 46 charges against him, including first-degree murder, after carrying out an attack inside the suburban Denver high school that he attended in 2019.

Eight students were injured in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch and one who attempted to stop the attack, Kendrick Castillo, was killed. Erickson, who is now 20 years old, was 18 and an adult at the time of the shooting and consequently will face a mandatory life sentence.

He and then-student Alec McKinney, who was 16 at the time, collaborated in the shooting, prosecutors said. McKinney was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 but could qualify for parole after serving 20 years since he was a juvenile during his involvement in the attack.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

School Shooter Faces Life in Prison
Devon Erickson, a former high school student convicted of first-degree murder and other charges for a 2019 shooting attack inside a suburban Denver high school that killed one student and injured eight others, is set to be sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole on Friday. Above, Erickson appears in court at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colorado, on May 15, 2019. Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP

Friday's sentencing hearing allows victims and their families to tell the court about what they've suffered in the continuing aftermath of the attack.

Erickson and McKinney targeted a classroom of high school students who were sitting in the dark, watching a movie at the end of their senior year. The two entered through separate doors to maximize the number of students they could kill, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said that Erickson and McKinney concocted a "victim-hero" plan in which McKinney would either kill himself or be killed by Erickson.

The shootings stopped when Castillo and two other students, Joshua Jones and Brendan Bialy, charged Erickson, whose gun jammed after he fired four times. McKinney was apprehended by a school security guard.

Defense attorneys argued that Erickson was pressured into participating by McKinney, who testified against Erickson after pleading guilty last year. The defense also suggested that Castillo was accidentally shot as he pushed Erickson against a wall.

Despite the mandatory life term for Erickson, prosecutors asked that a report be prepared that recommends the sentence and summarizes the evidence presented at trial. That information could help deter a future governor who might possibly consider clemency for Erickson, according to District Attorney John Kellner.

After the shooting, McKinney told investigators that he planned the attack for weeks and intended to target classmates who repeatedly mocked him because he was transgender, according to court documents.

At his sentencing hearing last year, McKinney said he did not want leniency and urged anyone planning a school shooting to get help. But he also suggested the shooting was Erickson's idea.

School Holds Vigil After 2019 Shooting
One student was killed and eight others were injured during a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in 2019, and the shooter now faces a life sentence. Above, STEM School Highlands Ranch seniors Jason Hristopoulos (right) and Maxine Li embrace during a candlelight vigil at Highlands Ranch High School on May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images