VISTA — The man who shot at children on the playground at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad was found sane at the time of the shooting, the jury announced March 16. The verdict followed deliberation during the sanity phase of the two-part trial to determine whether the 42-year-old Oceanside man was insane while he committed the violent acts that injured two young girls in each of their arms.The same jury recently found Brendan Liam O’Rourke guilty of seven counts each of premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm for the Oct. 8, 2010, school shooting.
After about a day of deliberating, jurors notified the judge March 14 that they had deadlocked on the sanity issue, according to reports.
They were ordered by Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz to return the following morning and resume, and by mid-morning they had reached the verdict of sane.
Because O’Rourke was found sane, he faces 103 years to life in prison instead of a commitment to a state mental hospital when he receives his sentence by Judge Katz on April 20.
“The community was deeply shaken by this school shooting and today’s verdict means the defendant will be held accountable for his crimes,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in a written announcement.
She also praised the prosecution team, deputy district attorneys Summer Stephan and Pat Espinoza, for their work on the case.
Stephan praised the students and staff of the school for bravely testifying and facing the person who pointed a gun and shot at them.
During the trial, deputy public defender Dan Segura told jurors that a mental disease and delusions led O’Rourke to believe that a previous employer and Illinois politicians were conspiring against him.
Several psychiatrists testified that the defendant was suffering from either schizophrenia or a delusion disorder, or both, at the time he fired six rounds on the schoolyard. “He’s wrapped up in his delusional thinking. It’s my belief he was coerced to do terrorist acts,” said Jaga Nath Glassman, a psychiatrist, during testimony.
Segura said that O’Rourke has “persecutory delusion” with his mental illness and thinks that someone is out to get him.
He told the jury the disease makes people lose touch with reality and believe things that are not true, according to reports.
Stephan told the jury that O’Rourke was angry, possibly due to his recent eviction from his apartment.
She said he also gave conflicting statements to police about his reasons for carrying out the attack. One psychiatrist testified that O’Rourke knew it was wrong, both legally and morally, when he opened fire at the school.
The defense had to prove preponderance of the evidence, which means it’s more likely than not that the defendant was insane when he committed the acts.