DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A jury of 12 people and four alternates has been selected in the trial against one of the accused gunmen in the 2019 STEM school shooting. The other person involved was convicted last year.
“In this room is terror,” said prosecutor George Brauchler. “In this room is every parent and every teacher’s worst nightmare. In this room are bullets and students’ blood, and the body of a hero.”
Brauchler said the defendant had many opportunities to stop the shooting on May 7, 2019, but failed to do so.
Brauchler showed security camera video from inside the school. On it, the two suspects walk into the school with four concealed guns and wave to a secretary.
“Before they part, they give each other a quick bro hug and a fist bump,” Brauchler said.
The suspect in the current trial is facing 46 counts, including two first-degree murder charges and 31 first-degree attempted murder charges.
His defense attorney, Julia Stancil, tried to paint a different picture of her client.
“This is a case about mental health,” Stancil said. “It’s a case about manipulation. It’s a case about how [the defendant’s] home life came undone at critical time at the end of high school.
“It’s about how a vulnerable kid… gets roped into a psychotic cult play, by a schizophrenic, homicidal sick kid, [the student convicted last year],” Stancil said.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, was the student killed in the shooting. He has been hailed a hero for joining other classmates and rushing [the defendant] during the attack, possibly saving lives and others from being injured.
Stancil called [the student convicted last year] the puppet-master behind the shooting and said her client did not mean to shoot Castillo. She said the .45-caliber Glock fired when Castillo and other students tackled him.
“He did not intend to do this,” Stancil said. “He’s not evil. He didn’t hate STEM. He didn’t hate the world, and he’s not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.”
The defendant was in court for all of the opening statements. He wore a blue suit with a tie and his hair was trim. He was attentive to both attorneys and often looked down during the most intense video and audio.
The other student involved in the shooting pleaded guilty last year to 17 charges related to the incident. He has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole in 40 years.
The current defendant’s trial is scheduled through June 25 in Douglas County District Court.