- Kelly O
Twenty-six year old Aaron Ybarra, who is being held without bail at King County Jail, will be in a prison cell for the rest of his life if King County prosecutors get their way. Ybarra is being charged with premeditated murder in the first degree, two counts of first degree attempted murder, and one count of second degree assault for pointing a shotgun at a male student. "If convicted as charged," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said this morning, "the defendant faces a standard range of 69 to 89 years."
However, prosecutors declared today they're seeking "an exceptional sentence of life in prison"—one that a jury would have to approve and give to the judge as an option—because Ybarra's crimes allegedly involve a "destructive and forseeable impact on persons other than the victim." Satterberg says the Mountlake Terrace resident, who has a history of arrests for intoxication, patiently and deliberately planned the mass shooting, studying the notorious killings at Columbine and Virginia Tech and even visiting Seattle Pacific University to assess when and where he could kill the most people. According to authorities, Ybarra planned to then turn a knife on himself.
After his arrest Ybarra cooperated in an interview and, according to an SPD report, calmly explained to police that he had stopped taking medications for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Transient Psychosis six months beforehand because he "wanted to feel the hate." He also ceased going to therapy.
This "random mass violence," Satterberg argues, "takes its toll on our humanity" and threatens everyone's sense of personal security. In his final journal entry before the shooting, according to Satterberg, Ybarra wrote, "I just want people to die, and I'm going to die with them!"
On Friday, a subdued Ybarra appeared in court. His lawyer, public defender Ramona Brandes, claimed he was suffering from delusions during the shootings, and that a cry from Sarah Williams, the third person he is alleged to have shot, brought him back to reality. She said she was sorry for what he had done. According to Satterberg, though, even after Jon Meis disarmed Ybarra by using pepper spray, Ybarra still attempted to reach for his hunting knife, prompting another student to kick it away. Meis, the prosecutor says, "undoubtedly saved many lives."