In a jail call recording played for a Douglas County courtroom June 7, the defendant in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting trial laughed with his girlfriend, calling himself her “school shooter boyfriend.”
Devon Erickson, 20, is accused of
helping his co-defendant, Alec McKinney, carry out the May 7, 2019 shooting, which left one student dead and eight injured
. His defense attorneys say that he didn't want to participate in the attack and tried to stop it, but was under the influence of drugs and was manipulated and pressured by McKinney.
“I technically shot up a school,” he said in the call, during a conversation where he joked about his race.
Several clips of Devon Erickson’s in-custody calls were played during the day’s testimony. Erickson’s defense attorneys worked to keep these calls out of the trial, objecting several times to their entry as exhibits. However, Judge Theresa Slade ruled that the calls would be allowed.
In another call, one of the students who had been in room 107 — where the shooting took place — asked Erickson about a list of targets for the attack. Erickson confirmed such a list existed but said he didn’t contribute any names and that they came from McKinney.
“Alec didn’t like most people,” he said, according to the call recording.
Erickson faces dozens of charges including first degree murder, attempted murder and arson. McKinney pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2020 and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 40 years.
In another call, Erickson mentioned to a friend that he and McKinney had showed up to school under the influence many times.
“Alec and I kind of went to school on cocaine a lot of times and probably should have gotten in trouble,” he said according to the call recording.
Defendant's friends testify
Also on June 7, two close friends of Erickson’s and his girlfriend at the time of the shooting testified.
David Sispera, who said he had been close friends with Erickson since the sixth grade, told the jury that the two of them ditched class together the day of the shooting to do cocaine and smoke marijuana.
“The last couple of months that I’d known him his demeanor was changing and he looked a little bit sleep deprived for sure,” he said. “But in terms of how he was acting that day, he was acting way more positive than I had ever seen him in the last six months … he was really happy.”
Erickson told Sispera about how he was “taking control” and was going to deal with all the issues in his family and life, Sispera said.
“He was just talking about how he was going to deal with everything, how he had a great change of heart on the whole situation, he had a new perspective on everything,” Sispera said.
During cross examination by the defense, Sispera added that his impression was that Erickson was planning positive changes for his life.
“I never thought that Devon could get violent honestly,” he said. “I’ve never seen him physically get violent towards other people.”
Erickson's girlfriend at the time of the shooting testified that she also saw him the day of the attack.
Erickson picked her up from Douglas County High School, where she was a student, and the two hung out at a park for about 25 minutes.
“He was very quiet, he didn’t really, like, say much,” she said.
The girlfriend, who is a minor, noticed Erickson was having a social media conversation with McKinney during their time together, she said. When she looked at his screen, he would hide the phone from her, something she said was unusual.
Aaron Padgett, another close friend of Erickson’s and a student in room 107, told the jury that Erickson had attempted to talk with him during the class period.
“I received a Snapchat message,” he said. “He was asking me to go to the bathroom to talk about something.”
A short time later, he saw Erickson stand in front of the class with a pistol and shout “nobody effing move,” before shots started firing, Padgett said.
In response to questions from the defense, Padgett told the jury that he didn’t think Erickson intended to hurt him.
Opening statements took place on May 27 and the trial is scheduled to last into late June.