REDWOOD CITY (BCN) — The mother of Hillsdale High School bombing suspect Alexander Youshock said she tried nearly a dozen times to get her son psychological help in the years and months leading up the attack on the campus, but that he refused.
Carol Youshock, 51, took the witness stand for the defense Thursday morning in San Mateo County Superior Court.
She testified that she tried to get her son to see a family counselor for the first time when he was in elementary school, shortly after she and his father divorced.
He refused to get out of the car at the doctor’s office, she said.
“He didn’t want it,” Youshock said. “He didn’t want to talk to anyone.”
Youshock said her son’s increased isolation and moodiness prompted her to try again to get help for him a number of times before the morning of Aug. 24, 2009, when he brought a chainsaw, a samurai sword and 10 pipe bombs to the high school campus.
“I thought it would help, but he didn’t want to go,” she said.
Youshock said that Alex gradually became surlier and less communicative with her, refusing to do chores and yelling through his bedroom door or slamming it in her face when she knocked on it to say hello.
By his sophomore year at Hillsdale High, Alex had become sullen and angry and had begun behaving in bizarre ways, such as by insisting that all the lights in their San Mateo townhome be left on with the blinds shut, even when it was still light outside, his mother said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti suggested in her cross-examination that this could be because Youshock did not want anyone to see him as he prepared for his assault on the school.
Carol Youshock said that Alex stopped having friends over and rarely smiled, watched TV with her or ate meals with his family.
After one occasion on which Alex got sick from chicken he claimed wasn’t cooked right, he accused his mother of trying to poison him and began to cook his own food – cheeseburgers that he would eat alone in his room, she said.
“I thought he was joking when he said he thought I was trying to poison him,” she said.
Carol Youshock testified that she unwittingly bought some of the chemical ingredients Alex allegedly used to fill pipe bombs, because he convinced her he was trying to build engines for model rockets, which they were planning to launch together on a future camping trip.
On the day of the attack, Alex told his mom he needed a ride to a spot two blocks from Hillsdale High School, where he was meeting a friend at a park to film a video with equipment he was carrying in a guitar case.
She remembered him knocking on the car window and waving to her, something he used to do when she dropped him off at elementary school, Carol Youshock said, her voice becoming almost inaudible.
“The only thing he did was knock on the window and wave goodbye – something he hadn’t done since sixth grade,” she said.
Earlier Thursday morning, former Placer County sheriff’s Lt. David Rose testified for the defense as an expert on tactical operations in military and law enforcement action.
Rose said that Alex’s planning process for the attack was amateurish.
“The planning, in my opinion, was very rudimentary,” Rose said.
Alex did not demonstrate in any of his self-filmed videos or journal entries that he was mentally preparing or practicing for the reality of inflicting harm on people with a chainsaw and homemade bombs.
The defense argues that Alex suffers from schizophrenia, which obscured his ability to premeditate and comprehend reality.
The prosecution has argued that Alex spent months preparing for a deliberate massacre on teachers he hated, and that his attempt was only halted by faculty members who tackled him before he carried out his plan.
Alex Youshock has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of exploding a destructive device with the intent to commit murder, one count of possession of a destructive device in a public place, one count of use of explosives in an act of terrorism, and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon.
If found guilty of any of the charges against him, a second trial will begin before the same judge and jury to determine his sanity.
He remains in custody without bail.
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