The suspect in last month’s deadly blaze at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub was charged Tuesday with 305 criminal counts in what could be the most heavily prosecuted murder case in the state’s history, authorities said.
The charges against Anderson Lee Aldrich include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and bias-motivated crimes, prosecutor Michael Allen told the court.
Aldrich is suspected of killing five people and injuring 17 others on November 19 at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Five others were wounded, but not by gunfire. Twelve others were killed without visible injuries, police said.
Allen said he couldn’t remember a murder trial with so many charges.
“As far as I know, I think that’s probably the most charges we’ve ever filed in a single case, on a murder case like this in the state of Colorado,” Allen told reporters after the hearing. others out there that I’m just not thinking about right now.
Lawyers on both sides asked the judge to schedule Aldrich’s preliminary hearing in May.
“We already have a lot of obligations, we have both, which makes it very difficult to get anything scheduled in early spring,” attorney Joseph Archambault told the court.
Allen cited his own busy trial schedule and said defense attorneys will need time to go through all the evidence against their client.
Allen will begin the high-profile murder trial on March 17 of Letecia Stauch, accused of murdering 11-year-old stepson Gannon Stauch, who disappeared in January 2020.
“We expect this case to be very substantial (and) it will probably take some time for the defense (lawyers) to process it and be ready for the presentation of evidence at a preliminary hearing,” Allen told the court.
But Judge Michael McHenry of the 4th Judicial District insisted the hearing can begin earlier and ordered both parties to be ready on Feb. 22 for a preliminary hearing expected to last two days.
“I’d be surprised if we get to a real jury trial sometime in 2023,” Allen later told reporters. “I suspect it will be sometime later.”
Aldrich sat next to the defense attorneys, wore a fluorescent lime prison uniform, and seemed attentive throughout the proceedings.
Tuesday’s pre-trial hearing was the first time the public had seen Aldrich since Nov. 23, when the 22-year-old first appeared in court.
The suspect, who was harassed by clubbers who desperately fought back during the shooting, appeared lethargic that day and struggled to sit upright in a wheelchair.
Booking photos showed numerous cuts all over the suspect’s face, a black, swollen left eye, and a bruise behind the left ear. Aldrich is non-binary and uses she/they pronouns.
“In the very first setting, the defendant’s posture and body were very different from today,” Allen said after the hearing.
The defendant “walked into the courtroom today (and) seems to have healed to some extent from the bruises that were visible on (Aldrich’s) face at the last institution.”
Witnesses credited the quick action of Army Veteran Richard Fierro, 45, and Marine Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James for pouncing the gunman and limiting the carnage.