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Some SPU students angry over planned insanity defense by accused shooter

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Aaron Ybarra pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and other charges on Monday, June 23, 2014, stemming from the shooting at Seattle Pacific University on June 5. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — Aaron Ybarra, the 26-year-old man accused of killing one and wounding two others in a shooting on the Seattle Pacific University campus on June 5, pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges Monday.

Ybarra and his defense team plan to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge said in court.

The Mountlake Terrace man is charged with killing SPU student Paul Lee and wounding Sarah Williams and Thomas Folwer in a shooting at Otto Miller Hall on June 5. If convicted, Ybarra could face life in prison.

A close friend of the late SPU student Lee sat in court to face the man accused of his killing.

“It was hard to watch and sit through. I do take comfort in the fact that justice is being served, though,” said Natalie Pimblett.

Other students feel defendant Aaron Ybarra may be looking to cheat justice after his attorney informed the court she will pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity defense.

“It’s absurd. This was not something he just decided on a whim to do,” said SPU student Ally Ingalls.

Ybarra has been diagnosed with mental illness in the past, but court documents said Ybarra admitted to “planning the shooting for some time … scouting the area in advance for possible escape routes” and visiting the campus twice before the June 5 attack.

Legal experts told Q13 FOX News that shows premeditation, which could contradict any claims of insanity.

“It was not random. This was something he planned out and that’s not reason to plea insanity,” said Ingalls.

Attorneys we spoke with say pursuing the insanity plea is a legal step any good defense attorney would take, even though it’s difficult to prove.

“I’m not totally surprised, but at the same time it’s frustrating. He did violate the family here and it’s like a cop-out,” said student Jack Wall.

The strategy isn’t sitting well with students still grieving.

“It’s very personal. It’s my friends. It’s my school. For someone who has no ties to decide to come in for the sake of their own pain to violate our home, it’s not OK,” said Ingalls.

At the hearing, prosecutors also added two additional charges of attempted murder and assault.

They say Ybarra pointed his shotgun at two students, and in one case he pulled the trigger but it jammed.

Ybarra will be back in court on Sept. 10.

 

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2 comments

    • KaosMistress

      I know I’m a little late commenting, but I was just watching something on the news about this case and started googling stuff…

      As to the death penalty. I get it. I totally get the desire to mete out justice vis a vis ‘eye for an eye.’ However, death penalty cases end up costing more money in the long run than life without parole (as in never even hoping to get out of jail, no parole hearings ever) do.

      The cost of incarcerating someone, even someone relatively young (ergo more years in prison, ergo more cost) is much less than what it ends up costing the state (because these guys never have any money to pay for their attorneys, court costs, witnesses, etc.) for years and years, and years of appeals until they get to the point of the final appeal. Seriously in any death penalty sentence there is an automatic appeal…just in case. Then…about 20 years’ worth of additional appeals to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes per appeal). It’s really economically more reasonable to house, feed, clothe, and provide them with medical care for the next 50 or so years.

      In this case (as well as some others) we *know* he did it. There *is* no doubt of his guilt. But if we take a swift ‘ walk to death row’ and the inevitable execution in every single death penalty/sentence case, there are going to be innocent people murdered by the state. There already have been without a doubt. Just look how many people are being exonerated when DNA evidence comes into play.

      It’s DNA… DNA is the one single thing (barring outright tampering/corruption) that can’t be faked. It is even more individual than a fingerprint. It is individual. With the exception of identical twins, no two DNA signatures are exactly the same. I’m stretching my genetics memory, but as I recall from more bio classes than anyone who is not a biologist should need to take, there was something said one rainy Saturday morning at 7 AM about there being a way to tell even identical twins apart via their DNA, but to be honest I wasn’t paying attention yet and so don’t remember what the professor was saying. .. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      I know we could say “well if we aren’t 100% then we should rely on DNA but if we know for certain then we shouldn’t need to.” Slippery slope right there. Way too easy to just say “well we know 100%” even when we don’t. Human beings are like water that way…path of least resistance.

      Moreover, if we think about this guy, if we think about other shooters, mass murderers, serial killers, spree killers, husbands killing their wives, mothers killing their children, and on and on…we know many of their names because they have been sensationalized int he media over the years…all the way back to Leopold and Loeb and beyond —they are horrible, reprehensible people who we rightfully feel shouldn’t take another single breath. But do we want to be like them? Murder int he name of the state for ‘justice?” Who the fluck are we to think it’s ok to murder (and make no mistake, execution is simply state sanctioned murder) another person, even someone this bad…or worse?

      I have gone back and forth on the death penalty over the years and it has only been in recent years (~10-15) that I have firmly come down on the side of not imposing it. It’s not the money. To some people that’s important which is why I discussed it in the beginning, but that’s not it for me. It’s not even that we might kill someone innocent…we certainly already have and I personally don’t subscribe to the ‘all life is sacred’ thing. We are all going to die eventually and with ~7+ BILLION people on a planet with a carrying capacity of ~9 Billion…a few thousand…million, or even billion less is no major loss on the whole (of course they are a loss to their loved ones…I’m not *that* callous), so it’s not that either.

      It’s not any kind of moral thing. It’s not religious— I am an atheist so the ‘only god can decide who lives or dies’ carp is less than meaningless to me. I think it’s mostly a feeling of who the fluck do we think we are….what hubris to think that 1) we should decide who lives or dies, and 2) thinking that we have some right to run the lives of other people? Granted, for the safety of the majority of the population we need to get rid of dangerous individuals (i.e. jail them).

      Really we have surrendered our autonomy to something called a “state/nation/country” and appointed thugs (police) and charlatans (politicians/office holders) as enforcers and rule makers. This has given us the belief…the population as a whole and as individuals that the “state” has some right of power over us. They, do not. They have the ability to push us around (i.e. guns, thugs…I mean police, etc.) but ability and right are not eh same thing.

      This thinking spills over into thinking about state sanctioned murder… the charlatans (judges in this case) will impose a sentence, and the thugs (police, prison employees) will carry it out, unless another charlatan (governor) stops it. Way, way, way too much power over the many in the hands of the few.