BUFFALO, Minn. — Gregory Ulrich was found guilty on all 11 counts including first-degree premeditated murder and multiple counts of first-degree attempted murder in a mass shooting at Buffalo's Allina Clinic in Feb. 2021.
The jury announced the verdict Thursday night after more than five hours of deliberation. Ulrich's sentencing is scheduled for June 17 at 1:30 p.m.
“This case, like I said, brought a level of terror that was unspeakable to all of the people at the Allina clinic that day and to the whole community of Buffalo, said Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes Thursday outside the courthouse. "The verdict that this fine jury handed down holds Gregory Ulrich accountable for the horrific crime that he committed.”
Lutes was joined by a group of workers from the Buffalo Allina Clinic, which released the following statement in response to the verdict:
We are grateful the jurors delivered justice for our Allina Health Buffalo Crossroads team members, who were senselessly attacked on February 9, 2021. The tragedy took Lindsay Overbay from her family, resulted in the injury of four of our team members and deeply affected our Buffalo Crossroads team.
Our resilient team members have shown bravery and courage, while experiencing deep grief and trauma as they navigated Gregory Ulrich’s criminal trial over the last few weeks.
We are grateful for the steadfast commitment shown by the Wright County Prosecutors and our law enforcement partners.
We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support felt from our Buffalo community, our health care colleagues and communities throughout the state. Each heartfelt social media post, prayer and gesture of support has been deeply appreciated by our team.
On behalf of the Allina Health family, our sincere gratitude for standing with us in the aftermath of the senseless attack on our team and our clinic, as we reopened our clinic doors to continue caring for the community we love and for your support today.
Ulrich was the only witness called to testify by the defense team on Thursday. The prosecution and defense each delivered short, concise closing arguments and then the case was handed to jurors.
Final pleas to the jury
During its closing argument, which began around 11:45 a.m., the prosecution began by naming each victim, calling them “innocent, defenseless victims who were frontline workers in the medical field.”
The prosecution implored jurors to consider video Ulrich recorded where he said to “kill as many nurses as you can,” and reminded them of medical testimony presented in the trial.
During the prosecution’s arguments, Ulrich took notes and didn’t make eye contact, according to KARE 11 reporter Kiya Edwards, who was inside the courtroom.
Prosecutors doubled down on the planned nature of Ulrich’s crimes, saying the case "is as premeditated as it gets,” and talked about all the points at which Ulrich made a conscious decision to terrorize the clinic: hatching the attack plan, purchasing parts for bombs and shooting multiple people.
“His intent was to destroy and his intent was to kill,” the prosecution maintained.
The state also played a video clip of Ulrich saying "I'm gonna rescue all senior citizens," talking about how physically painful it is getting old and saying anyone over the age of 80 should get leniency when it comes to prescribing narcotics.
"Pain causes people to be violent," prosecutors quote the defendant as saying, underlining their assertion that Ulrich cared nothing for his victims when he walked into the clinic and carried out his attack.
“He only cared about himself. Nobody else that day.”
Ulrich's defense team opened by telling jurors they would not ask them to have sympathy for the defendant and the decision he made to handle his distress. Rather, they moved to dispel the notion that the clinic attack was premeditated, asking jurors to consider Ulrich's state of mind and playing back his confession during a call to 911. In it, the defendant talks about bombs, tells someone in the clinic where to stand so they won't get hurt, and helps orchestrate his own arrest.
“I am talking about this because this was his state of mind. To go in, do damage, and then he surrendered," said defense attorney Virginia Murphy, insisting that Ulrich did not go to the Allina Clinic to commit murder, but to draw attention to his suffering.
Murphy told the panel that Ulrich had people inside the clinic trapped and if he had wanted to kill, the defendant would have used more of the ammunition he brought, and shot them point blank.
“The intent issue is that you must find the defendant acted with a purpose of causing death or believed the act would have that result,” she explained, urging them to make a decision based on law, not emotion.
“It is not intentional premeditated murder,” Murphy said.
After a short rebuttal by the prosecution four alternate jurors were excused, and the panel was released to begin deliberations just before 1:30 p.m.
Around 9:15 a.m., Ulrich's defense team began by confirming that they had advised the defendant it was in his best interest not to testify, but he made the choice to do so anyway. Ulrich was also asked if he was thinking clearly.
“I understand everything that’s going on and I’ve given it thought for a year,” Ulrich responded.
The defense then introduced a motion for a mistrial, maintaining the recent shootings around the country would have a prejudicial impact on the jury and pointing out that local television stations had been airing those stories back to back with developments in the Ulrich trial.
Prosecutors responded by saying there was no basis for a mistrial and the judge agreed, saying jurors had been instructed throughout the trial not to let things happening outside the courtroom influence them.
Ulrich is charged with first-degree premeditated murder, four counts of first-degree premeditated attempted murder, and 13 other criminal counts ranging from detonating homemade explosive devices to possessing a gun without a permit.
Once testimony began Ulrich told the courtroom that his physical problems began in 1977 when he fell off a scaffold while working. He said a doctor warned him a legion on a disc in his back would cause problems later, and it did. Ulrich told jurors that things got so bad that having to use a wheelchair was imminent, and he decided to have back surgery on Dec. 8, 2016.
Ulrich testified that the surgery was successful, but that his medication ran out and pain resumed. He ended up in a hospital in Minneapolis and Ulrich claimed that doctors wouldn't let him leave.
“I was trying to commit suicide because the pain was so bad,” he testified.
The defendant testified he contacted up to 50 medical professionals in subsequent years for help with his pain and presented them with 30 pages of documents and medical records that showed he wasn't abusing prescriptions. Ulrich told jurors he became so desperate he reached out to the Buffalo Police Department, the Wright County Sheriff, the county attorney, local mayors and “even the White House... even Trump.”
His attorneys asked Ulrich what he wanted to do the day of the clinic attack, and Ulrich testified that he wanted to blow off some bombs and do some damage so people would listen to his problems. When asked why he brought a handgun Ulrich responded that shooting was the easiest way to take out the windows.
His defense team followed up by asking why he shot people that day, and Ulrich said he wanted to sensationalize the situation, send a message and get people to understand what it's like living without pain medication.
When asked if he wanted anyone to die, Ulrich responded with one word: "No."
After defense questioning concluded shortly before 10 a.m., the state began its cross-examination. Prosecutors asked Ulrich if he purchased materials for pipe bombs, killed a woman and achieved a sense of attention, all of which the defendant acknowledged. They ran through each step in the planning and execution of the mass shooting, to underline that Ulrich had planned the attack with premeditation. The prosecutor then went through the list of victims who had been shot, including Lindsay Overbay, and Ulrich confirmed he was responsible.
KARE 11's Kiya Edwards was in the courtroom for Ulrich's testimony, and reported that jurors were very alert but not emotional while listening to his explanation of why the mass shooting happened.
At that point the state had no more questions for the defendant, and the defense rested its case with no additional witnesses.
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