Loukaitis Jurors Hear Parents, See Pearl Jam Video -- Mother, Father Testify In Trial Of Teen Son
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Jurors yesterday watched a Pearl Jam video that attorneys for Barry Loukaitis, a 16-year-old accused of killing three people and injuring another during a siege at a Moses Lake school, say helped trigger the teenager's violent rage last year.
The video of the song "Jeremy" chronicles the angst and anger of a disenfranchised boy who, after taunting by his classmates and neglect from his parents, embarks on a shootout in his classroom that leaves the entire class dead.
For several minutes, jurors watched pensively as the video mirrored the chaos that apparently filled Loukaitis' life for several months leading up to the Feb. 2, 1996, classroom shooting at Frontier Junior High School.
The constant refrain in the video was: "Jeremy spoke in class today."
Loukaitis was 14 when he went to his school with a rifle in hand and shot and killed two of his classmates, Manuel Vela and Arnold Fritz, both 14. He also killed his algebra teacher, Leona Caires, and severely wounded Natalie Hintz, then 13.
Loukaitis is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and second-degree assault, and 16 counts of kidnapping. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If convicted, he could receive life in prison. The prosecution has argued that Loukaitis was aware of his actions and that he killed his classmates and teacher in a fit of rage.
Loukaitis' attorneys yesterday opened the first day of their
defense with testimony by his mother.
JoAnn Phillips, 48, testified that weeks before the shooting she told her son of how she wanted to travel to Ellensburg, where she would tie up her estranged husband and his girlfriend, then shoot herself in front of them.
When asked by defense attorney Michelle Shaw if she'd thought what her confession might do to her son, Phillips replied: "I didn't think about Barry at all."
She also testified that he initially urged her not to follow through with her plan and that he asked her instead to use her anger and pain creatively.
"He said, `Mom, don't kill yourself. I don't want you to die. Just write about. Write it into a play,' " she recalled.
Phillips said she initially told her son she would do that, but she never did. She also testified that after several days passed - and she kept insisting she would act upon her suicide plan - Loukaitis told her to do whatever she wanted to do.
Later, Loukaitis' father, Terry, 45, testified that his son had watched the marriage between himself and Phillips turn into bouts of arguing, and that his son reacted by hiding in his room.
Ronald K. Fitten's phone message number is 206-464-3251. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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