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STEM School Shooting Hearing: Maria Castillo Tells Courtroom Kendrick's Smile 'Gone Forever'

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - In the final day of a preliminary reverse-transfer hearing for one of the teens charged in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, the mother of the student who was killed in that shooting took the stand to testify about how the shooting has affected her family.

Maria Castillo
Maria Castillo (credit: CBS)

"I don't have a life, he was my life," Maria Castillo testified, of her son Kendrick Castillo, 18, who was killed in the May 7 attack. "My life is over."

Her testimony began with an explanation of Kendrick's aspirations before the shooting.

"I had a perfect family... Kendrick was the best son that I could have ever asked for, an amazing person," Maria recalled. "He was a perfect son... a good student... a good friend."

Kendrick Castillo (credit: CBS)

She testified that Kendrick wanted to be an electrical engineer, and was active in the robotics club at the school. She said he previously went to a private school, but switched to STEM School Highlands Ranch for the technology.

Sobbing, Maria explained the last thing she said to Kendrick before he left for school the day of the attack.

"I hugged him and told him that I love him like every single day," she said.

Then she recalled how her husband called her around 2 p.m. that day and said there was a shooting at the school, to "turn on the TV."

She said she drove to the school as fast as she could, and she kept saying to herself, "please be okay, Kendrick."

Maria said she tried to call Kendrick, "but he didn't answer."

Douglas County Justice Center
(credit: CBS)

When she got to the school she found her husband, but no one knew where Kendrick was.

A police officer took them to a hospital, according to her testimony, and asked her and her husband what clothes Kendrick was wearing.

They told the officer, and the officer responded by saying, "I'm sorry." Maria testified, she asked the officer, "what do you mean, by I'm sorry?"

Crying, Maria recalled the words she never wanted to hear, "he didn't make it, Kendrick is dead."

She asked to see him, but officials wouldn't let her. When she saw him a week later, Maria said, "his beautiful smile was gone forever."

Almost everyone in the courtroom could be heard crying during this testimony. Even the defendant, Alec McKinney, 16, was sobbing, as well.

McKinney and Devon Erickson, 18, are charged with the death of Castillo, and injuring eight other classmates during the attack on May 7.

Closing arguments followed Maria's testimony. McKinney's defense admitted he should be punished for the shooting, but as a juvenile. In fact, the defense said if McKinney's case were to be transferred to juvenile court, McKinney would plead guilty.

However, the prosecution said if he were to be sentenced as a juvenile, he will have to face more hearings in the future after his conviction, and victims of the shooting, and their family members, like Maria Castillo, will have to go through the pain of reliving the attack all over again.

The defense did not have a counter argument to that point.

A judge is expected to issue a ruling on whether or not McKinney should be tried as an adult in one week.

McKinney will appear in court again for an arraignment on December 16 at 1:30 p.m.

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