BUFFALO, Minn — Several pieces of evidence weighed heavily with the jury in the first-degree murder trial for Gregory Ulrich, the shooter in the February 2021 attack at the Allina Clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota.
Surveillance video from the clinic's lobby shows Ulrich enter, set down a briefcase that contained a homemade bomb, and begin his shooting rampage. The video shows terrified people fleeing the building before Ulrich re-emerges, talking on the phone.
He called 911 to report himself.
"Tell me anything you can about the party that's shooting," the dispatcher said.
"I am," Ulrich responded, before adding, "A bomb or two is going to go off."
Juror Ashley Blank-Martin told KARE 11 the video, coupled with the 911 audio, told her Ulrich was purposely delaying his shooting victims from getting help.
"It was sick," she said. "It was sick to watch it."
There was another video played during the two-week trial that stuck with Blank-Martin and ultimately proved to her that Ulrich's actions were premeditated. In the video, recorded by Ulrich at his home, he rants about being denied pain medication and gives a message to others like him.
"I hope everyone who's been denied oxycodone the last couple years, when the pain gets bad and you know you're going to be stuck in bed for the last few months, grab your f****** pistol and go down there and kill as many nurses as you can to pave the way for your children," Ulrich said.
Ulrich's attorneys did not dispute several of the 11 charges he faced, instead focusing on the counts that involved premeditation: first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.
Blank-Martin says at first, the jury was not in unanimous agreement on the premeditation counts.
She has read online how many people were surprised it took the jury six hours of deliberation before convicting Ulrich of all counts. She wants people to know how seriously they took their jobs and how thoroughly they reviewed each piece of evidence.
"If we had to come to a verdict on all of the charges based on our emotions, the devastation the victims and families were left with following the incident, and our own personal views on guns and gun laws, the opioid epidemic, and the havoc ensued; well, I think our deliberation would have lasted only a few minutes," Blank-Martin said. "But our job was to consider and carefully examine all of the evidence, from both sides. We did just that. We spent hours carefully and competently considering every piece of evidence to ensure that we did our civic duty the best of our ability."
The clinic shooting has been traumatic for the victims and their families, as well as much of the community. Blank-Martin said listening to so many people re-live that trauma during the trial was nothing short of devastating.
"For nearly two weeks, I went to bed every night thinking of the victims and their families. I woke up in the middle of the night at times, and in the morning thinking of the victims and their families. I cannot imagine their trauma. I cannot imagine the toll of their ongoing and likely permanent medical issues and restrictions, the hobbies and activities they will never resume, and the debilitating PTSD and trauma they have as a result of this crime; and now have had to relive for this trial," Blank-Martin said. "Watching, listening and feeling them re-live the pain of the physical and emotional wounds inflicted on them by the defendant was an incredibly emotional and overwhelming experience."
Blank-Martin said the prosecution, led by Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes, did a "phenomenal job" calling and questioning all witnesses — those who laid out the physical proof, as well as the "expertly questioning" the victims about their lives prior to and following Feb. 9, 2021.
"I'll admit that I struggled with containing my emotion during their testimony," Blank-Martin said.
Following the verdict, victim Lindsay Overbay's sister Sara Lien called the verdict a "relief" for her family.
"She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Since it did happen and we did lose her, we’ve always wanted him to have to pay for what he did that day. He took away a mother of two little kids and he took away a daughter and a sister. And now he is never going to be able to hurt anyone else. He’s going to be in prison for the rest of his life," Lien said.
Regarding Ulrich, Lien said she will never speak of him and never think of him again after she delivers a victim impact statement on June 17 at Ulrich's sentencing hearing. By statute, Ulrich will receive a mandatory life sentence.
"He doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter to us," Lien said.
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