Psychologist says man charged in road rage killing was sane
Apr 20, 2023, 2:32 PM
(Westminster Police Department via AP, File)
DENVER (AP) — When a driver trying to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle almost hit his car, Jeremy Webster got angry, his outrage intensified by his worries about getting into an accident since he was not paying his car insurance bill. Webster followed the SUV Meghan Bigelow was driving with her three sons inside, feeling like he was “out of control” as if being directed by something outside of himself, a court-appointed psychologist testified Thursday at Webster’s murder trial.
Webster, now 27, is accused of shooting Bigelow and two of her sons, killing one of them, 13-year-old Vaughn Bigelow Jr., with a point-blank shot to the head after they pulled into the parking lot of a suburban Denver dental office in June 2018.
He also is charged with wounding a man who witnessed the shootings while the man was waiting in his truck with his 9-year-old daughter for an appointment.
Webster has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which requires prosecutors to prove that he was sane at the time of the shooting. Legally, that means 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,” the psychologist, Christina Gliser, said.
But Gliser, who interviewed Webster twice, 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. She said she concluded Webster was legally sane at the time of the shooting, in touch with reality and able to make decisions.
Questioned by prosecutor Jess Redman, Gliser also 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 periods of stability and normalcy.
By 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. Gliser said Webster told her he did not know why he did it.
Bigelow was shot in the back, and, after falling to the ground, shot in the head. Prosecutors say Webster also shot and killed Vaughn Bigelow Jr. and wounded 8-year-old Asa Bigelow. The witness, John Gale, was shot after Webster “locked eyes” with him, according to prosecutors.
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.