REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — Hillsdale High School bombing suspect Alexander Youshock said he never thought twice about carrying out his plan to kill three of his former teachers at the school.
Youshock, 18, testified in his own defense Monday afternoon in San Mateo County Superior Court, where he is charged with two counts of attempted murder and other charges stemming from the attack at Hillsdale High School on the morning of Aug. 24, 2009.
“I never had any second thoughts about it,” Youshock said, recalling his state of mind in the months before he went to the school with 10 homemade pipe bombs, a chainsaw, and a 10-inch knife.
“I saw it as something that had to be done,” he said.
Youshock answered questions from defense attorney Jonathan McDougall and Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti in a soft-spoken and monotone voice. His voice was so quiet during his two-hour testimony that on several occasions, the court reporter—sitting just a few feet from the defendant—had to ask him to repeat himself.
Youshock said that he was in the eighth grade when he first began hearing voices, a sign of what psychiatrists and psychologists have said was the defendant’s burgeoning schizophrenia.
He recalled setting a backpack down on the floor at his dad’s house, when he heard a voice say “ouch.” Youshock thoughy it was a ghost, he said.
During his freshman and sophomore years at Hillsdale High, where he started attending classes in 2006, Youshock said he began to harbor a grudge against the school because he felt “singled out” by his faculty adviser, Principal Jeff Gilbert, and by three of his teachers—Andrew Hartig, Allie Pitts and Meghan Spaulding.
“I just had a grudge against the school,” Youshock said. “I always felt like the teachers were singling me out.”
In her cross examination, Guidotti suggested that the defendant was resentful toward those members of the school faculty that made particular efforts to get Youshock to do his homework, lift his head off his desk and pay attention in class.
The defendant admitted that her suggestion could be true.
It wasn’t until a school shooter in Germany massacred more than a dozen students on campus in March 2009 that Youshock resolved to plan and carry out an attack on Hillsdale High, he said.
“I was going to kill the teachers,” Youshock said.
He said he never intended to harm students, but if anyone got in the way of his 10 homemade pipe bombs, his samurai sword or the chainsaw, others might also have been killed.
Youshock testified that he incorporated elements of a campus shooting at Virginia Tech into his own attack, such as leaving behind a manifesto and a plan to trap students in their classrooms by blocking the doors with doorstoppers.
Throughout the time when he was planning the assault, between March and August 2009, Youshock said he isolated himself in his room, played violent video games, and fantasized about building a city in Antarctica where he could be in control.
The defendant also said he suffered deepening suicidal tendencies, holding knives to his wrists and watching himself put a cap gun to his head in front of a mirror.
Guidotti suggested that Youshock could have killed himself if he wanted, but that he just pretended to want to because he enjoyed it.
“There’s nothing to enjoy,” Youshock said.
At no point did Youshock deny concocting a detailed plan to attack his former teachers, from using Google to research campus killings and bomb ingredients to convincing his mom that he was filming a video at a park near the school and needed to be dropped off there on the morning he referred to in his writings as “D-day.”
No one was injured in the attack.
Youshock admitted to setting off two pipe bombs in the school hallways in an effort to escape after he tried and failed to start his chainsaw.
McDougall asked Youshock how he felt Monday looking back on what he did.
“I feel bad about it,” Youshock said. “I could have killed someone. I scared a lot of people.”
The defense rested its case Monday afternoon.
The prosecution is scheduled to begin a rebuttal on Wednesday.
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 he is found guilty of any of the charges against him, a second trial will begin before the same judge and jury to determine his sanity.
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