STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting suspect Devon Erickson was “acting way more positive” in the hours before allegedly gunning down another student in May 2019 than he had in several months, a close friend testified in his murder trial Monday.
Erickson, now 20, was upbeat and “had a new perspective on things” as he drove to his Highlands Ranch home with friend David Sispera so the two could smoke marijuana and snort cocaine together, Sispera said.
“His demeanor was changing. He looked sleep-deprived for sure, but in terms of how he was acting that day, he was acting way more positive than I had seen him the last six months,” Sispera, 20, testified. “He was really happy.”
Defense attorneys have characterized Erickson as a troubled and easily misled teen who was manipulated by another student, Alec McKinney, 18, into the shooting that left one dead and eight others injured. They have said Erickson intended to stop the incident rather than participate.
Prosecutors have said Erickson was as calculating as McKinney and offered no forewarning of the shooting to anyone despite repeated opportunities. One student said he received a text message from Erickson just before the shooting in which he was asked to meet him in a restroom, but the message had no context and the student didn’t go, according to testimony.
Sispera said he and Erickson went to the latter’s home the morning of the shooting and used drugs before returning. Sispera said he was not at the school when the shooting occurred about three hours later.
He said he frequently worried about Erickson because of troubles the teen was having at home. But on May 7, 2019, things were different.
“On the drive, he was telling me about how he was taking control, that he was going to deal with the issues that was going on with his family and his life,” Sispera testified. “His demeanor threw me off a little bit. It was weeks, months, of him going through depressive episodes. At first I thought I didn’t have to worry about him, that he was figuring this out for himself.”
Former students have testified to seeing Erickson enter their British literature class three days before the school year ended and pulling a handgun. Classmate Kendrick Castillo, 18, and two others charged Erickson. Castillo was killed.
Erickson faces 48 criminal charges including two for first-degree felony murder and faces life without parole in prison.
McKinney was a juvenile at the time and is serving a life sentence plus 38 years after pleading guilty in February to first-degree murder and more than a dozen other charges. By law, he is eligible for parole after 40 years.
Testimony is to resume Monday afternoon in Douglas County District Court.
This content was originally published here.