Jury deliberations in sanity phase of school shooting trial resume

VISTA (CNS) – Jurors told a judge Thursday they were deadlocked on whether a man who opened fire at a Carlsbad elementary school, wounding two students, was legally insane at the time of the shooting.

Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz told the jurors in the Brendan O'Rourke case to resume deliberations Friday in hopes they can reach a verdict in the sanity phase, according to court officials.

O'Rourke, 42, was convicted early March of seven counts each of premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm. The defense has the burden to prove that the defendant was insane at the time of the attack.

Deputy Public Defender Dan Segura told jurors that delusions and a mental disease led the defendant to believe that his former employer, AIG Inc., and Illinois politicians were involved in a conspiracy against him.

A number of psychiatrists testified that O'Rourke was suffering from schizophrenia or a delusion disorder, or a combination of both, when he opened fire on the school grounds.

Among O'Rourke's mental illnesses is a “persecutory delusion” that someone is out to get him, his attorney said. The disease makes people lose touch with reality and believing things that are not true,” Segura told the jury.

Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said O'Rourke was angry, possibly because he recently had been evicted from his apartment. Stephan said the defendant had a history of getting back at people he thought had crossed him.

She said O'Rourke gave police conflicting statements on why he carried out the attack at the school.

One psychiatrist testified that O'Rourke was delusional when he opened fire at the school but knew it was wrong, both legally and morally.

If the defendant is found sane, he faces 103 years to life in state prison. If the jury finds him insane, he could be sent to a state mental hospital.

Categories: KUSI