DENVER (AP) — Jeremy Webster got angry when a driver getting out of the way of an emergency vehicle almost hit his car, his outrage intensified by worry about getting into an accident since he wasn’t paying his car insurance bill. Webster followed the SUV, feeling like he was being directed by something outside of himself, a court-appointed psychologist testified Thursday at Webster’s murder trial.
Webster has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to shooting the driver of the SUV and two of her sons, killing one of them, a 13-year-old, with a point-blank shot to the head after they pulled into the parking lot of a suburban Denver dental office in June 2018.
But the psychologist, Christina Gliser, concluded after interviewing Webster twice that he was legally sane at the time of the shooting, in touch with reality and able to make decisions.
Webster, now 27, is accused of shooting Meghan Bigelow and two of her sons, killing Vaughn Bigelow Jr. and wounding 8-year-old Asa Bigelow. Prosecutors say Meghan Bigelow was shot in the back, and, after falling to the ground, shot in the head.
Webster also is charged with wounding a witness, John Gale, who was shot after Webster “locked eyes” with him, according to prosecutors. Gale was in his truck with his 9-year-old daughter, waiting for an appointment.
Webster’s insanity plea requires prosecutors to prove that he was sane at the time of the shooting — that he knew the difference between right and wrong and was able to make decisions.
Hours after the shooting, Webster described being disconnected from his body during the incident, telling police that he had seen his arm “do the shooting,” Gliser testified.
But Gliser said that claim was “likely inaccurate and untrue” since Webster did not have a long history of trauma that could cause disassociation to that degree. Questioned by prosecutor Jess Redman, Gliser said that Webster told police after the shooting that “What happened today was wrong.”
Defense attorney Rachel Oliver pointed out that previous therapists had diagnosed Webster with bipolar disorder, that he had attempted to kill himself in late 2017, and that he was put on suicide watch when he was booked into jail after the 2018 shooting.
Gliser said she did not think that Webster had bipolar disorder, finding that Webster had trouble controlling his anger and concluding that he had borderline personality disorder. She said people with bipolar disorder have depressed and manic periods that are not influenced by the situations they are in — but also have periods of stability and normalcy.
In contrast, intense, emotional reactions to life stressors are the norm in people with borderline personality disorder, she said.
After Webster and Bigelow initially argued in the parking lot, Gliser noted, Webster told her he was about to leave until Bigelow used her phone to take a video of his car. His anger flared again because he told her he thought he might get into trouble with the police, she said.
He said he shot Bigelow once, and after his car would not start, paced, felt numb and then began shooting again, Gliser said. Bigelow was shot in the back, and, after falling to the ground, shot in the head.
Gliser said Webster told her he did not know why he did it.
After the shootings, Webster continued on his way to a Home Depot where he had been headed to buy a new saw for a home renovation project he was working on for his cousin’s construction company. He bought the saw, returned to work on the project and was arrested by police after his car, identified with the help of Bigelow’s video, was spotted in rush hour traffic that evening.