The Colorado Springs shooting suspect’s gender identity will not stop the authorities from bringing in 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 along with five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
The 22-year-old is accused of killing five people, while at least 18 others sustained injuries after they stormed into Club Q just before midnight on Saturday and opened first with an AR 15-style rifle.
Taken down by an army veteran named Richard Fierro, the suspected shooter also survived extensive wounds around his head and neck, revealed the mugshot pictures.
While the motive behind the shooting in the Colorado LGBT+ club is still under investigation, authorities said Mr Aldrich faced possible murder and hate crime charges.
Even though the defence has not categorically stated anything about using the suspect’s gender identity during the trial, legal experts said including pronouns in Tuesday’s court filing was a “very strategic move aimed at building sympathy to ward off the chances of attracting additional charges”.
“They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal fillings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich,” Mr Aldrich’s attorneys wrote.
The suspect’s gender identity is “not relevant," Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor, told Insider. "Obviously the defense will want to get it in, but it’s not a defense."
"It’s certainly something that the defense would try to use, but it’s not in and of itself a bar from hate crime charges depending on what the other evidence is," Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice at California State University, San Bernardino, was quoted as saying by the Insider.
"The notion that because someone might belong to a group does not mean that some ... dispute revolving around that group membership or issue would negate hate crime charges," he added.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered that the suspect be held in custody without bail.