SEATTLE — The case against the man charged in the Seattle Pacific University is now in the hands of a jury. Closing arguments wrapped up Monday afternoon and jurors went right into deliberations.
Jurors will have to decide if Aaron Ybarra was insane or just filled with hate when he opened fire at Seattle Pacific University in June 2014.
“What he described was crazy but it’s not insanity,” prosecutor Kristin Richardson said.
Immediately after the shootings, Ybarra told detectives he hated people, that he enjoyed killing student Paul Lee and injuring two others -- victims he didn’t know.
The prosecution says Ybarra’s hate was fueled by his lifelong struggle to fit in and his obsession with one of the Columbine shooters.
“He saw himself in them, ignored, treated like an outsider,” Richardson said.
During closing arguments, the prosecution also reminded jurors about Ybarra’s jail house phone call with his brother where he bragged about his popularity among the inmates.
But when Ybarra took the stand in his own defense, he changed his motive, claiming hate didn’t make him kill, it was God.
“He clearly had psychosis, specifically schizo affective disorder,” defense attorney Ramona Brandes said.
Several doctors have testified that Ybarra was born with cognitive challenges which the defense says made it hard for the defendant to seek treatment for his mental illness.
“No one disputes he has these cognitive limitations but there is no evidence to suggest that his cognitive capacity affected him from understanding what he was doing was wrong,” prosecutor Jessica Berliner said.
The defense claims Ybarra was gripped by delusion, starting years before he walked onto SPU’s campus.
“He loiters for 7 minutes in the parking lot” Brandes said.
Brandes suggesting that Ybarra was hearing voices then.
But the prosecution says the evidence instead proves premeditation, not a man who is insane.
“He scouts the campus,” Richardson said.
Richardson also pointed out that the defendant also drove by the campus the day before the shooting.
Paul Lee’s father showed up to closing arguments and looked emotionally drained as the defense pushed for a manslaughter conviction, not first-degree murder, for the death of his son.
“There is no evidence that when Aaron shot Paul Lee that he was trying to specifically kill Paul Lee."
The defense says Ybarra’s intention was to take students hostage but he diverted from that plan. They say Ybarra was aiming for Lee’s shoulder so Brandes says that proves the shooting was not premeditated.
“It’s not appropriate, because Paul was killed with premeditation,” Richardson said.
The jury deliberated for about two hours on Monday. They will be back Tuesday morning to continue the process.