Man sentenced to 112 years for deadly school shooting

Aaron Ybarra is led to a court hearing at a King County Jail courtroom June 6, 2014, in Seattle.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

SEATTLE -- A man who fatally shot a student at a Seattle university was sentenced Friday to 112 years in prison.

In November, a jury found Aaron Ybarra guilty of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of assault for the attack at Seattle Pacific University that killed 19-year-old Paul Lee of Portland, Oregon.

Ybarra had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. “I wish I could take back what I did, but I can’t,” he said before he was sentenced. 


Students mourn on campus after a shooting at Seattle Pacific University on June 5, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. A gunman is in custody after four people were shot on campus resulting in one death. 

Mat Hayward, Getty Images

As the 29-year old Ybarra was sentenced to an exceptional 112 years, he expressed deep regret for killing Lee and injuring three others by firing a shotgun multiple times. 

“I wish this situation had never happened. I wish Paul Lee was still alive,” Ybarra told King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers and the courtroom full of victims, family members, students and SPU employees, CBS affiliate KIRO reports.

Ybarra also spoke of the surviving victims, especially the most seriously injured, Sarah Williams, who was shot point-blank. She “did not deserve what she got that day,” Ybarra said with no expression.

The trial included testimony from Ybarra as well as student and safety monitor Jon Meis, who was hailed as a hero for taking down the gunman during the June 5, 2014, shooting.


Student Jon Meis is credited with stopping the shooter who opened fire in a building at Seattle Pacific University.


Meis testified during the trial that he waited to hear the shooter reload his shotgun, took pepper spray out of his backpack and sprayed the gunman in the face twice.

Defense attorney Ramona Brandes had sought at trial to show that Ybarra suffered from a debilitating mental illness and limited intellectual function and that he believed God was directing him to shoot.

Prosecutors had argued the crime was premeditated and that Ybarra knew what he did was wrong. Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Berliner requested a sentence of 111 years for bringing despair -- not just to SPU -- but to the entire region. Instead, Judge Rogers went beyond that and sent Ybarra to prison for 112 years, KIRO reports. 

Jurors also took a short field trip to the campus hall where the shooting occurred.