Confessed SPU shooter flip-flops on motive for opening fire at Seattle Pacific University
SEATTLE -- On the second day of Aaron Ybarra’s testimony in his murder trial, the confessed SPU shooter contradicted what he said on the stand the day before.
On Tuesday, Ybarra said his hatred for people didn’t fuel the shooting spree; instead, it was the word of God and Satan. He said he kept it a secret until now -- but his explanation why he never spoke about God and Satan before was incoherent on the stand.
The prosecution took the gunman back to the moment on June 5, 2014, when he killed Seattle Pacific University student Paul Lee before turning the gun at another student inside Otto Miller Hall. Altogether, one student was killed and two were injured before another student tackled Ybarra and held him down until police arrived.
Ybarra has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
“That’s you pointing the gun at Tristan,” prosecutor Kristin Richardson said.
Looking at the video of the shooting, Ybarra said he spared Tristan sitting at a table but chose to shoot Paul Lee and Sarah Williams because they didn’t take the situation seriously, thinking it was a joke.
“She laughed, like, whatever,” Ybarra said.
Prosecutors believe Ybarra snapped, not because of mental illness but his lifelong struggle to fit in.
“You have a history of being bullied and being an easy target,” Richardson said.
Richardson showed jurors Ybarra’s confession again when he told detectives that it was his hate for people that made him kill.
“Once you do it, it’s like, oh my God, it's so fun,” Ybarra said.
But Ybarra tried to take those words back on Tuesday.
“That was just a cover-up,” Ybarra said.
When prosecutors pressed him on why he was changing his story, at one point Ybarra blamed the pepper spray used to subdue him after the shootings.
“The chemical was messing me up,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra insisted it was the voices of God and Satan that made him shoot innocent people he didn’t even know.
But there was no mention of any hallucinations in a phone call between Aaron and his brother Joel that jurors heard on Tuesday.
“Everyone is treating me better than the 7th floor,” said Ybarra.
Joel asked if the 7th floor was the mental ward.
Ybarra said it was.
“They are mentally ill," Ybarra said.
During the conversation, Ybarra is heard boasting and laughing about his popularity among the inmates.
“Oh yeah, I saw you on TV world man oh that was you that did that stuff,” Ybarra said.
After Ybarra switched stories on the stand, defense attorney Ramona Brandes called his psychotherapist to the stand.
Samantha Good says she met with Ybarra for the first time in January 2012. She said Ybarra told her he had a mental disorder and told her he wanted to shoot up a classroom. She diagnosed him with schizo affective disorder. A condition with symptoms similar to schizophrenia coupled with mood disorders.
Good testified that as the session progressed, Ybarra talked about how he was being taken over by negative thoughts. His condition deteriorated and she recommended an involuntary commitment to a mental hospital -- something that never happened.
During cross-examination, the state asked Good about Ybarra's sexual compulsions.
Good said Ybarra talked about how it was hard to control his sexual fantasies and that the more he focused on sexual fantasies the less fixated he would be on violence.
The prosecution is expected to call their own expert to the stand next week to try to refute Good’s testimony.
On Wednesday, the defense will call a doctor to the stand who treated Ybarra shortly after the shooting.