Nevada County murder suspect Jason Schuller gives details of shooting
A prosecutor in the Jason Schuller murder trial hammered the defendant on his second day of testimony, questioning if his claim of self defense truly led to the shooting that ended William Tackett’s life.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh on Wednesday continually referred to the multiple times he said Schuller, 36, shot Tackett in the head on March 20, 2016 — a shooting that led authorities to charge Schuller with murder.
Schuller testified that he was scared and that Tackett, a friend of about two years, threatened him with a knife. Schuller said he had seen supernatural events over the past several days, and Tackett had admitted to being Lucifer. After shooting Tackett and fleeing to Sacramento, Schuller twice considered killing himself.
Schuller has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
“I still see stuff,” Schuller said. “I see stuff in this courtroom. I see things. I hear things.”
“But you didn’t try to kill anyone in court, did you?” Walsh asked.
Under cross-examination by Walsh, Schuller said he was about 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10 and between 185 to 195 pounds at the time of the shooting. Walsh presented Tackett’s driver’s license, showing the 67-year-old man to be 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds.
Schuller said Tackett had served in the military.
“Very agile, very young at heart,” Schuller said.
Walsh dug into the details of the moments before and after the shooting, asking Schuller to describe precisely where he and Tackett stood and where they moved.
Schuller said both of them reached for a gun on a table. Tackett held a knife threateningly at the time. Schuller reached the weapon first and shot Tackett once. He then approached the fallen Tackett and shot him another four times.
“You went to check on him after shooting him in the head,” Walsh said. “You shot him again.”
Schuller said he had to reload after shooting Tackett, adding it was out of worry and fear. Walsh said Schuller reloaded after firing 10 times at Tackett.
Pivoting to drug use, Walsh asked Schuller about “cheeking,” hiding medication in his mouth, and then selling the Seroquel — used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression — in jail. Schuller said he had, adding that he still has hallucinations.
Walsh then questioned why Schuller would sell the medication when he needed it. Moments later the prosecutor said Schuller has a motive to lie about his visions.
“I’m being fully honest about everything,” Schuller said.
“Out of the goodness of your heart, for Will,” Walsh retorted.
Sculler’s defense team called two law enforcement officers who encountered Schuller in Winnemucca, Nevada, the day before the shooting.
One of them, Winnemucca Officer Daniel Klassen, took body camera footage of the encounter, which stemmed from reports of reckless driving. Jurors watched over 30 minutes of video showing officers speaking with Schuller, who talked about the anti-Christ and people attacking his throat with needles. At one point Schuller asked if the officers believed in Jesus. They said they did.
One officer then brought a drug-sniffing dog to the scene, which indicated contraband was in Schuller’s vehicle. That led to a search that revealed nothing. Officers later allowed Schuller to leave.
Under cross-examination, Klassen called the encounter with Schuller was peaceful, saying he exhibited no psychotic behavior.
The trial, starting its sixth day of testimony, resumed at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 14.