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Transgender teen charged with murder in Colorado school shooting to stand trial as an adult


If convicted, 16-year-old Alec McKinney faces up to 40 years in prison

The body of Kendrick Castillo, killed during the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, is escorted into St. Mary Catholic Church on May 17, 2019, in Littleton, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A transgender teenager who told police of being bullied as the reason the teen and a friend opened fire on classmates in a suburban Denver high school May 7— killing one student and injuring eight others — will be tried on murder charges as an adult, Reuters reported.

What are the details?

Alec McKinney, 16 — who was born female but identifies as male — told police of being in a "pre-op transitioning phase" and seeking revenge on students over being bullied for being transgender, the outlet said.

McKinney and Devon Erickson, 19, were ordered to stand trial on first-degree murder, attempted murder, and weapons charges in connection with the shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Reuters said. The pair each face 43 charges, the Denver Post said.

Kendrick Castillo, 18, was fatally shot when he ran toward one of the two shooters in an attempt to stop the attack and save lives, Reuters said, adding that he was hailed as a hero.

John and Maria Castillo accept posthumous Medal of Honor award from Douglas County Sheriff's Office for their son, STEM student Kendrick Castillo, who was killed in the school shooting.Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Defense attorneys wanted the case moved to juvenile court, citing McKinney's mental health issues and a troubled childhood that included witnessing domestic violence committed by McKinney's father against McKinney's mother, Reuters reported

But while Douglas County District Judge Jeffrey Holmes agreed the defendant suffered "serious trauma," he declined to move the case Wednesday, the outlet said.

"Based on the totality of the evidence before it, the Court finds that it is has not been proved that the juvenile and the community would be better served by transferring this case to juvenile court," Holmes wrote in the seven-page ruling, Reuters said.

More from the Post:

In his decision, Holmes addressed the 11 different factors that must be considered when deciding whether to send a case back to juvenile court. The judge seemed to agree with the prosecution on several points made during the recent hearing, including: the determination that McKinney's actions were "purposeful and planned"; that he was adequately mature for his age and had a more stable home life than the defense argued; and that evidence of significant bullying was conflicting.

Holmes also cited McKinney's response to a previous arrest for selling Xanax to a friend, who overdosed, as a significant warning sign.

"It is of great concern that despite being involved in the juvenile justice system and seeing the potentially devastating consequences of his actions on another person's life, McKinney moved forward with a plan to cause harm to others," the judge wrote, according to the paper.

The prosecution argued that McKinney had support from family, teachers, and mental health professionals but consistently deceived and manipulated them for personal gain, the Post added.

If convicted of the murder charge, McKinney faces up to 40 years in prison, Reuters said, adding that the maximum sentence would be seven years had the case been sent to juvenile court.

The Colorado Public Defender's Office representing McKinney declined to comment, the outlet said, adding that District Attorney George Brauchler had no immediate comment, according to a spokeswoman.

'I'm elated'

John Castillo — the father of fatally shot student Kendrick Castillo — told the Post he was up at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and unable to sleep due to thoughts about the judge's pending decision.

"I'm elated," Castillo told the paper after learning of Holmes' ruling. "As a grieving family having to go through these court proceedings for seven days, I was hoping and praying this would be the result."

Here's more about who Kendrick Castillo was and what he did that day:

Colorado school shooting hero remembers the friend who acted first

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