What's next for accused Club Q shooter




  • In US
  • 2022-12-05 12:41:00Z
  • By The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Dec. 5-Anderson Aldrich, the person accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding more than a dozen others at the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, made the first of what will be numerous appearances in court last month, but what does the road ahead look like for the 22-year-old?

Aldrich's first in-person court appearance is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The prosecution is required to file charges against Aldrich before Tuesday's court appearance, and a judge will likely go over the charges with Aldrich at the hearing. Aldrich's defense counsel also has the ability to waive any public reading of the charges at the hearing.

Aldrich is being held on 10 arrest-only charges: Five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury.

Following Aldrich's court appearance on Tuesday, the next step would be to set a preliminary hearing. However, defense counsel will have the opportunity to request a sanity evaluation to determine if Aldrich is competent to stand trial.

If the defense requests a competency evaluation, the preliminary hearing would be delayed until the evaluation is returned. If Aldrich were to be found not competent to stand trial, the case would remain in limbo and not progress until Aldrich is restored to competency.

Robert Dear, the man who shot and killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood in 2015, has yet to face a trial because he has been found incompetent to stand trial since his arrest.

Preliminary hearing

Anyone accused of a Class 3 felony or above in Colorado has a right to a preliminary hearing, and it must take place 35 days after the first appearance in court if requested, unless there is good cause for a continuance.

Court records obtained by The Gazette show that Aldrich's defense attorneys have already requested a preliminary hearing.

At a preliminary hearing the prosecution presents evidence and testimony to the court in an effort to show the judge that there is sufficient evidence for the defendant to stand trial.

The prosecution also must show that the "proof is evident and the presumption great" that Aldrich would be convicted of first-degree murder in order to continue holding the defendant in jail without the possibility of bond.

The judge is required by state law to view the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution in a preliminary hearing. If a judge determines that the evidence is not sufficient, the case is dismissed.

Arraignment

After a preliminary hearing, the next hearing for a defendant is usually an arraignment.

At an arraignment, the defendant will enter one of three pleas: guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.

A fourth option of nolo contendere or "no contest" exists in Colorado law, but it is a "rare" plea option, according to the Colorado Criminal Lawyer Blog.

If Aldrich pleads not guilty, they would be entitled to the right to a speedy trial within six months of the date a plea is entered. However, the defense can choose to waive the right to a speedy trial.

If Aldrich pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, a mental health evaluation must be performed before a trial date is set. These mental health evaluations can often last months.

In the case of Letecia Stauch, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of her 11-year-old stepson Gannon, it took over six months for the mental health evaluation to be completed and filed to the court. Stauch's jury trial is scheduled for March, more than three years after she was charged with killing her stepson.

Jury trial

If Aldrich pleads not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity, a trial will take place.

At trial, jurors hear evidence and testimony presented by the prosecution and defense, and they must come to a unanimous verdict of guilty or not guilty.

If the jury can't come to a unanimous verdict, then a judge must order a mistrial, and a new trial is scheduled.

A mistrial happened earlier this year during the trial of Matthew Barton, who was accused of sexually assaulting a former high school student. In October, the jury decided it could not come to a unanimous verdict, and Judge Eric Bentley was forced to declare a mistrial.

Colorado law allows for a defendant to request a bench trial, where there is no jury and only a judge determines guilt at the end of the trial. But the prosecution must consent to allow a defendant to waive a jury trial in favor of a bench trial.

A bench trial request put forward by Stauch's defense attorneys was denied earlier this year.

If found guilty, a sentencing date can be scheduled for the defendant, or the court can proceed directly to sentencing after the verdict. If found guilty of first-degree murder, Aldrich would be given a mandatory sentence of life in prison in the Department of Corrections, per Colorado law.

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