Accused Thornton Walmart shooter says he doesn't think he has mental illness, despite judge's order

"I'm not prejudiced against Hispanic people."
Posted at 4:49 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 21:02:55-05

BRIGHTON, Colo. – In early November, 52-year-old Pamela Marques of Denver, 66-year-old Carlos Moreno of Thornton, and 26-year-old Victor Vasquez of Denver lost their lives in a shooting at a Thornton Walmart, forever altering the lives of their loved ones.

Their accused killer, 47-year-old Scott Ostrem, was ordered by an Adams County judge Wednesday to undergo a mental competency evaluation in the case as he requested to represent himself.

He faces two counts of first-degree murder for each of his victims, and 30 counts of attempted-first degree murder because of the other people who were at the store when he allegedly walked in and started shooting.

Denver7 exclusively spoke with Ostrem Thursday via video conference to get more insight into his motivations to allegedly kill three people and to represent himself in the state's case against him.

In the 20-minute interview, Ostrem repeatedly declined to answer any questions about the shooting, saying he couldn’t discuss the shooting.

“These are just things that I can’t really discuss at this time,” was a common refrain from Ostrem.

When repeatedly pressed, Ostrem asked Denver7 to write him a letter, to which he might respond with further details. He continued to refuse to answer questions relating directly to the case when Denver7 noted he could speak to the questions Thursday.

But he admitted that the charges against him are serious, and that he understood why there was much public animosity against him.

“I suppose with the allegations brought against me, they could have the assumption of that—that I’m a pretty bad person,” Ostrem said. “Up until I go to court, there’s really nothing I can really do.”

He said he couldn’t discuss if he felt regret in the alleged shooting, but said that he is not prejudiced toward Hispanics or Latinos, as some neighbors of his had told Denver7 after his arrest.

“I’m not prejudiced against Hispanic people—I mean I’ve lived here my entire life. I think I don’t really know what to say towards this question,” Ostrem told Denver7.

He said that he had been trying for months to get rid of his court-appointed public defender and to represent himself in the case.

“I’ve been trying to get rid of them since like November,” Ostrem said, “but I can’t get any cooperation because I’m locked in here for 22 hours a day.”

He said he didn’t believe he was “in very good hands” with the public defender’s office representing him, and claimed that his counsel “refused” to file the motion on Ostrem’s behalf in December. The public defender’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Ostrem also admitted Thursday he is “not educated in law,” despite his plea to represent himself. The judge in his case on Thursday ordered that Ostrem undergo a competency evaluation at a state hospital in Pueblo before he rules on Ostrem’s motion.

Ostrem also denied claims made by his sister that he’d been experiencing mental health issues stemming from a decades-old LSD trip.

“I’m not really aware of what she’s talking about. Sometimes people say things and they stretch things out,” Ostrem said. “I don’t believe I’m struggling with any kind of mental illness.”

But he said he was “not unwilling” to prove he’s competent “in order to…move along” the court case.

“I hope that I can get rid of my counsel and come up with a more-competent means of lawyers to represent me, but we’ll see how that goes,” Ostrem said.

But when asked what his end game was in his attempts to represent himself, Ostrem was succinct: “I have no idea," he said.

In addition to the dozens of felony charges Ostrem faces, he was also charged with a sentence enhancer that would double any prison and parole time he might face if convicted.

The judge’s order for Ostrem to undergo a competency evaluation pushed back his preliminary hearing, which had been set for next week. He now has a competency hearing scheduled for April.