SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A triple-murder trial is under way for a Silicon Valley engineer charged with fatally shooting three executives at a technology startup.
Jing Ha Wu is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted for the shooting rampage inside the Santa Clara offices of SiPort Inc. in November 2008.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that Wu's attorney, Tony Serra, said during opening statements Thursday that during the shootings his client experienced a psychotic break that was brought on by a flashback to the abuse Wu suffered at the hands of Communists during the Cultural Revolution in his native China.
"His family was treated as traitors, as capitalists," Serra said. "They were vilified, spit upon, forced to wear those tall hats and do all kinds of hard labor. He was bullied, he was harassed, he was shot at and it filled his mind with feelings of pain and unworthiness."
Serra added: "He was out of his mind."
Santa Clara County prosecutor Tim McInerny said, however, that Wu was motivated by revenge after he was fired from the company. Authorities say Wu returned about four hours later and shot and killed CEO Sid Agrawal, vice president of operations Brian Pugh and human resources manager Marilyn Lewis.
McInerny said that after Pugh fired Wu on the morning of Nov. 14, 2008, the manager sent an email to his bosses, Agrawal and Lewis, noting that Wu had threatened, "You will pay for this, you will see. I wish you to go to hell. You will not escape this Earth."
The prosecutor said Wu planned the killings, including going to a gun shop in Santa Clara shortly after he was fired and purchasing 100 bullets for his 9mm gun. He fired six during the rampage.
"Revenge_that's what this case boils down to," McInerny said. "A disgruntled employee is fired and kills three of the four people responsible."
Serra said while Wu has admitted to the killings at the tech startup, he had only intended to kill himself until, "his mind went white" because of post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his childhood.