The trial against accused Seattle Pacific University gunman Aaron Ybarra is in recess until Oct. 26, when jurors will visit the campus where one student was killed and two others were wounded in 2014.
Jurors hearing testimony in the trial of accused Seattle Pacific University (SPU) gunman Aaron Ybarra will get a weeklong break as the state nears the end of its case against the 29-year-old Mountlake Terrace man.
On Monday, Dr. Richard Harruff, King County’s chief medical examiner, testified about the death of 19-year-old Paul Lee, an SPU student who was gunned down outside the university’s Otto Miller Hall on June 5, 2014. Jurors viewed autopsy photos and X-rays showing the damage caused to Lee’s neck, head and face from a shotgun round.
Two other witnesses briefly took the stand Monday morning before King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers recessed the trial until Oct. 26.
The state has only one more witness to call — a scientist from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, who is out of town this week, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Jurors will also visit the SPU campus on Oct. 26 before the state is expected to rest its case, he said.
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Following opening statements on Oct. 4, witness testimony has proceeded more quickly than expected, largely due to the fact that Ybarra’s defense attorney, Ramona Brandes, has opted not to question witnesses on cross-examination, or has asked only a handful of clarifying questions of a few witnesses.
Brandes’ trial strategy isn’t much of a surprise, given that jurors were told by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner during opening statements that “most, if not all of the evidence … will be undisputed in this case.”
During Brandes’ opening statement, she told jurors Ybarra is both brain-damaged and mentally ill. Ybarra has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ybarra is charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder for Lee’s death, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault, with each count carrying a firearms enhancement as well as an aggravator that the crimes involved “a destructive and foreseeable impact on persons other than the victim” — namely, the entire SPU community.
In addition to Lee, Ybarra shot two other students before he was tackled, doused with pepper spray and disarmed by student safety-monitor Jon Meis.