Alleged Club Q shooter Anderson Aldrich will go to jury trial: Judge

Feb. 23—Alleged Club Q shooter Anderson Aldrich will face a jury trial, an El Paso County judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Michael McHenry ruled that all 323 charges against Aldrich be bound over. McHenry also ruled that Aldrich will continue to be held without bond.

Aldrich is accused of killing five and wounding more than a dozen in a shooting at the popular LGBTQ+ nightclub on North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs.

Arraignment will be held May 30. The delayed arraignment is because McHenry believed allowing the defense more time to complete a mental health evaluation for Aldrich will mean a jury trial will likely come quicker.

The findings of the mental health evaluation could determine if Aldrich enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

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The presentation of evidence

The determination from McHenry came after a full day of evidence and testimony presented by the prosecution to show that Aldrich committed the Club Q shooting and did so because of a "hatred" towards members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The prosecution presented evidence that Aldrich was an administrator for a "neo-Nazi" website which had previously posted a video that, according to Colorado Springs detective Rebecca Joines, glorifies mass shootings. Joines added that Aldrich, on Nov. 19, the day of the Club Q shooting, had posted four separate videos to the website, including one video taken at 11:53 p.m. in the club's parking lot. Aldrich allegedly entered Club Q and began shooting two minutes later.

Neither Joines nor the prosecution elaborated on the contents of the four videos uploaded by Aldrich the day of the shooting, and the videos were not played in court.

Joines testified that she had spoken with men who knew Aldrich through the neo-Nazi website, and that those men said Aldrich had a "hatred" towards the police and the LGBTQ+ community, and often used slurs to describe the LGBTQ+ community while communicating with the two of them.

The prosecution also displayed evidence that Aldrich had a hand-drawn map of Club Q in Aldrich's apartment prior to the shooting, along with numerous signs of gun ownership, a rainbow-colored target, a black mask, a ghillie suit — a type of military camouflage outfit — and a handwritten note that said:

"Please relieve me of my own fate, I'm drowning in my own wake.

How long must I wait

for you to rid me of this hate."

Drugs and mental state

Aldrich's mental health was a talking point throughout the preliminary hearing, with defense attorney Joseph Archambault spending a good portion of the hearing discussing Aldrich's mental health problems and significant drug usage.

Archambault entered several pieces of evidence showing more than 10 prescription drugs Aldrich was taking to treat depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders. Archambault also said that Aldrich's mother, Laura Voepel, had told Joines in the past that Aldrich was "severely disabled" and had been a victim of sexual assault in the past.

Archambault added that Aldrich told law enforcement that the suspect had taken six Xanax, three Adderalls, and several grams of cocaine and freebase cocaine the night of the shooting.

"I really f—ked up; I really killed all those f—king people," Aldrich allegedly told an El Paso County transport deputy following a December hearing, according to a statement provided by Archambault.

Surveillance footage and next steps

Surveillance footage from the night of the Club Q shooting was entered into evidence by the prosecution, but was not played in court. However, the prosecution did display two screenshots from the surveillance footage which pictured Aldrich entering the club in a ballistic vest while holding an AR-15-style rifle, and Aldrich aiming down the sights of the AR-15 rifle within the club while shooting.

Both the prosecution and the defense told McHenry on Thursday that they would not like the Club Q surveillance footage released to the public, but McHenry scheduled a hearing for March 31, to hear argument from any third parties — such as the media — as to why the video should be made public.

McHenry also stated that on March 31 he will review any motions filed by Aldrich's mother, Laura Voepel, regarding claims she allegedly made to court staff on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday afternoon, McHenry noted that a woman named "Laura V" was using the chat feature in Webex to speak about things happening during the preliminary hearing. What was being said by the woman who may have been Aldrich's mother was not disclosed by McHenry, but whatever was said was important enough that attorneys from both sides had to be informed during an extended recess.

On Thursday morning, McHenry stated that court staff received a voicemail from a woman claiming to be Aldrich's mother requesting that her address be redacted from court proceedings and documents because someone allegedly attempted to break into her apartment after her address was stated in court on Wednesday.

CSPD spokesperson Robert Tornabene told The Gazette that there were no calls for service from any residents at Voepel's address — which is a multi-unit apartment complex — on Wednesday or Thursday. Tornabene stated the most recent call for service from Voepel's address was a call for an ambulance in late January.

McHenry stated on Thursday that he does not make rulings based on information provided via a voicemail, but if Voepel files a motion with the court to have her address redacted he will consider it at the March 31 court date.

The District Attorney's Office will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon to provide further information on Aldrich's case.

Aldrich remains in custody at the El Paso County jail.