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The Colorado Springs shooting suspect’s gender identity will not prevent authorities from bringing hate crime charges against them, legal experts claim.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary, is facing preliminary charges, including five counts of murder as well as five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime resulting in bodily injury.
The 22-year-old is accused of killing five people, while injuring at least 18 after they entered Club Q just before midnight on Saturday and opened fire first with an AR 15-style rifle.
Taken down by an Army veteran named Richard Fierro, the suspected shooter also survived massive wounds to his head and neck, photos of the facial shots revealed.
Although the motive behind the shooting at the Colorado LGBT+ club is still under investigation, authorities said Mr. Aldrich faces possible murder and hate crime charges.
While the defense did not specifically state the use of the suspect’s gender identity during the trial, legal experts said including pronouns in Tuesday’s court filing was a “highly strategic move aimed at generating sympathy to stop the possibility of attracting additional charges”.
“They use the pronouns they/them, and for the purpose of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich,” Mr. Aldrich’s attorney wrote.
The suspect’s gender identity is “not relevant,” Nema Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor, told Insider. “Of course the defense would like to have it, but it’s not a defense.”
“It’s certainly something the defense will try to use, but it’s not a bar from a hate crime charge relying on other evidence,” said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino. As quoted by Insider.
“The idea that someone can belong to a group does not necessarily mean that some … membership of that group or conflict surrounding the issue will negate the charge of a hate crime,” he added.
Meanwhile, the court ordered to keep the accused in custody without bail.