Admitted Freeman HS shooter told detectives ‘I know I did something for once and I’m not a failure’
SPOKANE, Wash. — The declination hearing for the admitted Freeman school shooter continued Friday with both the prosecution and defense questioning school leaders from the district.
Prosecutors began by questioning the Freeman School District’s psychologist and special ed director Jody Sweeney. Sweeney talked about Caleb Sharpe’s struggles in school.
Sweeney described Sharpe as friendly, well-respected and intelligent. In working with him, she said Sharpe had an average to high cognitive function with no concerns over social skills. She said his only deficits were math and organization.
Sweeney said Sharpe was not violent, did not fight and did not have outbursts.
Sweeney said the Freeman community focused on “just surviving” the first year after the shooting. This year, she has begun to see students and staff decline and suffer from exhaustion. She said she’s seen students and staff leave the district because of the shooting.
The defense began questioning Sweeney shortly after. Their first question was whether Sweeney is a licensed psychologist in the state of Washington. She is not.
The defense pressed Sweeney about why Sharpe was put on Individualized Education Programs for handwriting, visual perception, math and organization. Sweeney said it was because he was below grade-level standards. He was also put in those programs because of professional judgment and his inattentiveness, Sweeney added.
Sweeney was asked if she remembered in Sharpe’s records him saying he was having “anxiety about almost everything” back in 2013. She told the defense she did not recall that and has not memorized the files.
Prosecutors then began questioning Sweeney again, asking whether Sharpe’s parents ever asked for him to be referred to an outside psychiatrist. She said no.
Sweeney told the court Sharpe struggled with his grades and noted it was because of missing assignments. She said he was never interested in homework.
Following Sweeney, Freeman High School principal James Straw took the stand. He described some of the long-term effects the shooting has had on students.
Straw told a story about a school field. Balloons popped at a restaurant and students dove under tables.
“The anxiety remains,” Straw said.
The defense declined to cross-examine Straw.
The Freeman School Resource Officer then took the stand. He told prosecutors what he did when the shooting call came in. He said he handcuffed Sharpe as soon as he ran into the hallway and remembers asking him, “Are you alone? Are you alone? Is there anyone else?”
After a lunch break, the court reconvened and Dr. Pamela Burg, a pediatric cardiologist from Sacred Heart, took the stand.
Burg testified about an echocardiogram she did in 2001. The test was not attributed to any patient. She noted the findings of the cardiogram were normal, showed a strong heart and did not indicate any hypoxic event.
The defense pressed Burg about an indication of a murmer.
Following her testimony, Detective Scott Bonney was called to the stand. He interviewed Sharpe immediately after the shooting he is accused of. The prosecution had him read parts of the interview in court.
“I didn’t really care if he was dead, so I left,” Sharpe reportedly said in an interview with Bonney.
Bonney said he asked Sharpe if he was upset, to which Sharpe responded “no.”
“You don’t really seem upset about this… are you?” “No”. Another comment made in the post interview: “….I know I did something for once and I’m not a failure at it”. Told Det. Bonney he had been thinking about this for two years #kxly https://t.co/azZ1S9axgH
— Hawk Hammer (@ImHawkHammer) July 19, 2019
“I know I did something for once and I’m not a failure at it,” Sharpe reportedly told Bonney.
According to Bonney, Sharpe said he had been thinking about the shooting for two years.
The hearing will continue next Monday morning with closing arguments. Its not clear how soon after that the judge will make his decision.
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