Seattle Pacific shooting suspect pleads not guilty

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 23 at 3:19 PM

SEATTLE — A man charged with killing one person and wounding two others in a shooting earlier this month at Seattle Pacific University ultimately will plead not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder, attempted murder and assault, his lawyer said Monday.

In court, Aaron Ybarra, 26, of Mountlake Terrace, Wash., pleaded not guilty to premeditated first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault in a minutes-long hearing in King County Superior Court. He was denied bail and will remain in King County Jail, where he has stayed since his arrest the day of the June 5 shooting.

But his lawyer, Ramona Brandes, filed a notice of intent to use the insanity plea.

She has said her client has a long history of mental issues, and police in Mountlake Terrace, about 15 miles north of Seattle, confirmed that he was hospitalized twice for mental health evaluations in 2010 and 2012 after their officers' encounters with him.

If convicted of all charges, Ybarra could face a sentence of up to 86 years in prison. However, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has said he will seek an exceptional sentence that could put the 26-year-old in prison for life.

Previously, Seattle police detectives wrote in charging documents that Ybarra wanted to kill as many people as possible before killing himself.

The shooting at the science and engineering department's Otto Miller Hall on campus killed student Paul Lee, 19, a freshman from Portland, Ore., and injured two others.

Student Sarah Williams, 19, of Phoenix, who was critically wounded that day and spent five hours in surgery, was discharged from the hospital June 13. The other victim, Thomas Fowler Jr., 24, of Seattle had minor injuries and was released from the hospital June 6.

Student security monitor Jon Meis, 22, subdued Ybarra, drenching him with pepper spray as he stopped to reload his double-barreled shotgun. Meis then tackled Ybarra and held him until police arrived with the help of other students at Seattle Pacific University, a 4,300-student private Christian school north of downtown.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Editor's note: A previous version stated the suspect entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but that was incorrect. The suspect pleaded not guilty. His attorney did file a notice of intent to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which she must do within 10 days of arraignment.

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