Accused SPU shooter testifies ‘voices’ told him to kill; prosecution says insanity defense is an act
SEATTLE — A chilling confession came on the stand Monday from the man accused of opening fire at Seattle Pacific University. One student was killed and two others were injured.
Aaron Ybarra admitted to jurors in his murder trial Monday that he killed student Paul Lee, 19, and also shot student Sarah Williams on the campus on June 5, 2014. Another student, Thomas Fowler Jr., was also injured by pellets from the shotgun blast that killed Lee.
Ybarra told his defense attorney Ramona Brandes that he didn’t know if the shooting was real until he was in the back of a police cruiser after his arrest.
Ybarra claims he was possessed by one of the Columbine shooters when he opened fire on the innocent students.
During questioning by the defense, Ybarra said he heard the Columbine shooter’s voice for years, almost on a daily basis.
The defendant says he tried to commit suicide in 2010 and even called 911 on himself because he was afraid he would hurt others.
“It was intense, scary and confusing in an intensive way,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra said he drank until he blacked out because that helped him deal with the Columbine shooter. But the defendant claims it still wasn’t enough to drown out the other voices telling him to kill.
“God was telling me, 'No more delaying, it had to be done,'" Ybarra said.
Ybarra said Satan also spoke to him.
“Lucifer put their spirits inside me, inside my soul,” Ybarra said.
The defense on Monday also called a drug and alcohol dependency expert to the stand. The expert testified that she recognized red flags and recommended Ybarra go to a mental hospital. Ybarra never went to the mental hospital to seek help.
The defendant’s brother, Joel Ybarra, also took the stand and told jurors that Aaron talked about the disturbing voices of the Columbine shooter for years leading up to SPU’s shooting.
“He was scared, he was absolutely terrified,” Joel said.
But during cross-examination, prosecutors pressed the brother about Aaron’s mood. Joel had spoken to Aaron just two hours before the shooting.
“He seemed content,” Joel said.
Joel also said Aaron never mentioned anything about feeling out of control and never talked about Satan or God telling him to kill.
The prosecution says Ybarra’s insanity defense is all an act. During cross-examination. they pressed the shooter to explain why he never mentioned God or Satan to anyone before or after the shooting. They say the defendant only brought up that defense on Monday.
The prosecution says Ybarra planned the attack for weeks because of his hatred for people who he thought treated him badly.
On the day of the shooting, the prosecution says, Ybarra carefully picked out his victims. Many of the students who testified in the trial said they thought the gun was a joke. And when the victims brushed Ybarra off, the defendant admitted on the stand that it made him angry.
“I don’t know why they didn’t run,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra added that student Paul Lee should have hid when he saw the gun.
“When Paul disobeyed the command, he kept walking,” Ybarra said.
The prosecution says Ybarra spared the students who showed fear and shot the ones who didn’t.
They prosecution says the real motive was power.
The shooting made him feel powerful, something he craved in his life.
The state will continue its cross-examination of Ybarra on Tuesday.