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Prosecutors in Colorado lay out their case for hate crime charges in Club Q shooting

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Prosecutors in Colorado have started laying out their case for hate crimes charges in the Club Q shooting. You may recall this. The gunfire in November killed five people and wounded more than a dozen others at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. The defendant is claiming mental illness and a history of abuse. Abigail Beckman reports from our member station KRCC.

ABIGAIL BECKMAN, BYLINE: Police say 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich posted neo-Nazi content online, along with a video showing mass shootings at mosques and synagogues. They found a rough, hand-drawn map of Club Q in Aldrich's apartment and evidence of six visits to the club in the last year or so. Patricia Harwood was one of dozens of survivors, family members and friends of shooting victims who filled the courtroom.

PATRICIA HARWOOD: And for him to have been there so many times, I think that was just - to me, I think it was just hateful and spiteful and evil.

BECKMAN: Aldrich uses they/them pronouns. Police say a friend Aldrich made on the internet gave the FBI an image the suspect shared online, showing the sight of a rifle centered over a photo from a gay pride parade. Another online contact told investigators Aldrich hated police, minorities and LGBTQ people.

HARWOOD: I don't see any remorse in him at all, and we've been watching all day.

BECKMAN: Aldrich's lawyers say their client made a statement about being gay during the shooting and is nonbinary. They say Aldrich is a victim of abuse and mentally ill and talked about being sorry. The defense says Aldrich was on nearly a dozen prescription medications for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and anxiety, and used a combination of illicit drugs the night of the shooting. Adriana Vance is the mother of Raymond Green Vance, one of the victims who was 22.

ADRIANA VANCE: The fact they bringing up his mental illness and his drug use and all this - like, to me that has nothing to do with - at the end of the day, he still went in there and killed people and hurt a lot of people.

BECKMAN: Aldrich, dressed in orange jail clothes, cried throughout the daylong proceeding, shaking and rocking back and forth.

VANCE: He was crying for himself. But he's going to have a lot more crying to do, so he should save some of those tears right now.

BECKMAN: Among evidence prosecutors presented was a short poem by Aldrich on a yellow pad of paper in childlike handwriting. The final line said, how long must I wait for you to relieve me of this hate? The hearing on whether there's enough evidence to take Aldrich to trial is expected to end today.

For NPR News, I'm Abigail Beckman in Colorado Springs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Abigail Beckman