Colorado shooting suspect makes first court appearance

The hearing was carried out over video link with the El Paso County jail.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The suspect in last weekend’s attack at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ club that left five dead and 18 others wounded was in court for the first time Wednesday morning, answering three basic questions while handcuffed and wearing an orange protective suit.

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The hearing for Anderson Lee Aldrich before El Paso County Court Judge Charlotte Ankeny lasted four minutes. 

> Watch the hearing

The suspect is due back in court on Dec. 6, although it’s possible that date could change. 

The Colorado Springs Police Department released Aldrich’s booking photo Wednesday.

Wednesday’s hearing began at 11:29 a.m. The suspect appeared on a video link from the county jail. Throughout the hearing, the suspect’s head was slumped to one side.

Defense attorneys earlier filed documents that said the suspect is nonbinary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them.”

Ankeny first asked the suspect their name.

“Anderson Aldrich,” the suspect replied.  

“Yes,” Aldrich answered after Ankeny asked if they had watched a video explaining their constitutional rights.

“No,” the suspect replied when asked if they had any questions. 

Aldrich is being held without bail on suspicion of the following charges in the shooting:

Five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation.Five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.

Aldrich was booked into the El Paso County jail after being released from the hospital Tuesday. 

Five people — Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance — were killed in the shooting. Seventeen others were injured by gunfire. Another person was injured, but not by a gunshot wound.

Two people — Thomas James and Richard Fierro — stopped the gunman and prevented him from injuring more people, police said. 

Investigators are still working to determine the motive behind the shooting.

Formal charges have not yet been filed.

Although the next hearing was set for Dec. 6, defense attorneys asked for a different date because one of them is not available then. The judge left the hearing on the schedule for now, but could change it after conferring with the judge who will handle that hearing in El Paso County District Court.

9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said the next significant court appearance in this case will be the preliminary hearing. 

That’s when the prosecution will try to show there’s probable cause to move the case forward. Robinson said the standard for that is small and easy to reach.

After the preliminary hearing, there will be an arraignment where the suspect will plead guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.

“The defense attorneys have almost nothing to work with,” said Robinson. “Identity is not an issue because the individual was detained at the scene and as a consequence the only issue really in a case like this is the state of mind and the ability of the defendant to form a mental state of intending to kill others.” 

He said in mass shooting cases, there’s a high likelihood that insanity could be claimed as a defense, especially when there are no other issues at hand. 

“This is not a whodunit. This is not even a why did he do it,” said Robinson. “This is a does he have any excuse at all for doing it.”

Robinson said it’s very unlikely the suspect will be released on bail for a multi-victim first-degree murder case.

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