George Brauchler to oversee trial of STEM School shooting suspect

George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District’s top prosecutor, will be vacating his post in just over a week but he won’t be leaving the office for a while.

Brauchler’s successor, Republican District Attorney-elect John Kellner, has asked the veteran prosecutor to stay on as a chief deputy district attorney to oversee the trial of one of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting suspects.

The trial of Devon Erickson, a former STEM student who is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2019 killing of fellow student Kendrick Castillo, is expected to commence Feb. 1.

“I am grateful to Mr. Brauchler for his commitment to the victims and families involved in the STEM shooting to see this trial through,” Kellner said in a news release Thursday. “He is invested in this case and the community, having worked with the victims and law enforcement involved for more than 18 months, and he has graciously agreed to stay with us on a part-time basis so that he can finish the case.”

The other defendant in the school shooting, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty in February to first-degree murder and 16 other charges. He was sentenced in July to life in prison, plus 38 years with the possibility of parole, for his role in killing Castillo, 18, and injuring eight others.

Kellner, who won the race to head the 18th Judicial District after a recount of election results was completed in early December, will take the oath of office on Jan. 12. Brauchler, a fellow Republican, has helmed the office for eight years.

Erickson’s trial has been delayed a couple of times due to the coronavirus pandemic but a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District on Thursday said a pre-trial conference in the case is still set to take place Jan. 15.

Kellner also announced other appointments to his office Thursday.

He named Tom Byrnes, a Navy veteran and judge advocate, to be his assistant district attorney; Vicki Klingensmith and Chris Wilcox to lead the Arapahoe County and Douglas County offices as senior chief deputy district attorney, respectively; and Eva Wilson to oversee the Elbert County office as chief deputy district attorney.

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