Insanity Defense Possible In Accused SPU Shooter's Case

Jun 23, 2014

The man charged with killing one student and seriously wounding two others on the campus of Seattle Pacific University on June 5 has pleaded not guilty.

On Monday attorneys for Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, filed a notice of intent to pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity defense. The move doesn't mean they will go that route, just that they may use an insanity defense.

Extra security precautions were taken as Ybarra was escorted in shackles into a King County courtroom, a glass partition separating him from observers.

Ybarra is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and attempted murder. According to court papers, at one point during the incident at SPU, Ybarra pointed his shotgun at a female student and pulled the trigger, only to have it malfunction and fail to fire.

In the wake of the shooting, a diary kept by Ybarra came to light. In it, he allegedly said he’d stopped taking his anti-depressant medication because he wanted to “feel the hate.” 

SPU student Natalie Pimblett, who knew the slain shooting victim Paul Lee, was in the courtroom for Ybarra’s arraignment Monday.

The experience, she says, was surreal.

"You know, I've kept up with the news, I've read all of the articles, seen all of the pictures, but to actually see him a few feet away from me, someone who caused so much harm to my friends and my community was very difficult," Pimblett said.

The King County prosecutor is seeking a sentence of life in prison for Ybarra.