By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado transgender teenager who admitted to taking part in a shooting at a Denver-area charter school last year that left one student dead and eight others wounded was sentenced on Friday to life in prison plus an additional 38 years.
Alec McKinney, 17, was sentenced in Douglas County District Court for the shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7, 2019.
A 19-year-old co-defendant in the shooting, Devon Erickson, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges and faces trial in September.
In February, McKinney pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and related charges. As a juvenile offender, McKinney is eligible for parole after 40 years under Colorado law.
Before sentencing, a sobbing McKinney apologized to the victims and said he took responsibility for the pain he caused.
“I don’t want a lighter sentence,” McKinney said.
An 18-year-old student, Kendrick Castillo, was killed when he charged one of the shooters, police said. Eight of his classmates were wounded, one from a bullet fired by a security guard.
During the emotional sentencing hearing, Castillo’s father, John Castillo, called McKinney a coward and said he shed only “crocodile tears.”
“These are real tears,” Castillo said, his voice choked with emotion. “I condemn you to hell.”
McKinney, born female, has admitted plotting the school shooting as revenge on classmates over bullying, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
McKinney and Erickson consumed cocaine and stole three handguns and a rifle belonging to Erickson’s parents before storming the school, police said.
Erickson, who prosecutors said shot Castillo, faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder as he was an adult at the time of the crime.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Leslie Adler)