SEATTLE — The defense rested its case Monday in the trial of Aaron Ybarra, the man who confessed to the SPU shooting but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The defense’s last witness was Chaplain Shannon O’Donnell, who works with inmates providing religious guidance for the Catholic Church.
Her conversations with inmates are usually confidential but on Monday on the stand she revealed details about their last two years together.
The defense is hoping her testimony will back up their claim that Ybarra was insane when he opened fire at Seattle Pacific University in 2014. Ybarra has confessed to killing student Paul Lee and injuring students Sarah Williams and Thomas Fowler Jr.
O’Donnell told jurors that Ybarra talked about voices and that he said God and Satan were fighting over him and that he didn’t have control.
But the prosecution says Ybarra came up with that defense while sitting in jail after hearing other inmates cite the Bible and after he received letters from SPU students who said they were praying for him.
Before O’Donnell’s testimony, the defense called two doctors who treated Ybarra before the SPU shooting.
Dr. Stephen Glass, a child neurologist, testified that Ybarra was born developmentally delayed.
“That is simply the way he was endowed,” Glass said.
The defense says his struggles as a child developed into OCD and then psychosis in his early twenties when he met Dr. Heidi Iwanski.
“He seemed very disturbed and impaired,” Iwanski said.
Iwanski says Ybarra talked about violent fantasies, identifying with Columbine shooter Eric Harris years before the SPU shooting. Iwanski says Ybarra has schizo affective disorder and he was given medicine to treat his psychosis.
“He identified the feelings of rejection and hate, hating the world,” Iwanski said.
The expert believes Ybarra lived in a delusional world but the prosecution says that`s her opinion, not what Ybarra told her. The prosecution repeatedly pressed Iwanski about whether Ybarra ever told her that the voice of Eric Harris told him to kill.
Iwanski said Ybarra felt controlled but added that Ybarra never specifically said he heard the voice of Eric Harris.
The prosecution also pointed out Ybarra was not on his medicine during the time of the shooting, not only because he didn’t have insurance as the defense has said but partly because of concerns over weight gain and decreased sexual drive.
The prosecution says Ybarra knew that his violent fantasies were wrong but when he became unhappy with his family and social life he decided to appease his anger by killing random strangers.
The state is expected to call their expert witness on Tuesday, who will give his opinion about Ybarra’s mental state.
Closing arguments are expected on November 14.