Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Insanity Defense Possible In Accused SPU Shooter's Case

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
FILE - Shooting suspect Aaron Ybarra is led to a court hearing at a King County Jail courtroom Friday, June 6, 2014, in Seattle.

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.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.