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Prosecutors won't seek death penalty in Colorado school shooting case

March 6 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in Colorado won't seek the death penalty for one of the suspects in a school shooting that killed one student last year.

District Attorney George Brauchler said capital punishment won't be on the table for 19-year-old Devon Erickson, who pleaded not guilty in January to 44 charges, the most serious of which was first-degree murder.

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In a notice filed in Douglas County District Court on Thursday, Brauchler declined to explain his rationale for the decision.

He said the family of Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old killed in the shooting, had a "genuine desire that capital punishment be sought" for Erickson.

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Police say Erickson and co-conspirator Alec McKinney, 16, carried out the shooting May 7 at STEM School Highlands Ranch. McKinney pleaded guilty last month to 44 counts.

McKinney told investigators he and Erickson planned the shooting because they wanted fellow students to "experience bad things" and "have to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life."

McKinney told police he was bullied in school because he's transgender. He said he targeted people who "made fun of him" and called him names. McKinney's legal name on court documents is Maya McKinney.

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Police said McKinney and Erickson both fired guns they got from a locked cabinet in the latter's home. In addition to killing Castillo, the shooting injured eight students, including two shot by a school security officer who believed they were the shooters.

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Erickson faces multiple counts of attempted murder and other misdemeanor charges.

The prosecutors' decision comes two weeks after Colorado's General Assembly voted to abolish the death penalty. Gov. Jared Polis has said he plans to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

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