The Silicon Valley engineer who gunned down three of his bosses after being fired from a tech startup was not the least bit insane when he committed the carnage four years ago, a renowned forensic psychologist testified Wednesday.
"There's no evidence that supports he had a psychotic episode,'' prosecution expert Kris Mohandie said.
Instead, Jing Hua Wu, now 51, started concocting an "evolving story'' two years ago to support his claim that he is not guilty by reason of insanity for killing his supervisors at Siport in Santa Clara, Mohandie said. Shortly after the shooting, Wu told a different story to Santa Clara detectives, never mentioning a word about what he now contends -- that an instant before the gun went off, he had a flashback of being mistreated during the Cultural Revolution in China. Wu also testified he blacked out and cannot remember any details about the November 2008 incident before finding himself driving his SUV out of the parking lot.
"It's retrospective embellishment,'' the veteran psychologist told the jury.
Mohandie's testimony came as Wu's five-week murder trial winds down, and could prove pivotal. Closing arguments are set for the end of this week or early next week. After the verdict, the trial would then move on to a second "sanity'' phase with the same jury.
If Wu is convicted of shooting his immediate supervisor, Brian Pugh, office manager Marilyn Lewis and CEO Sid Agrawal, he faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.
But if the jury determines he was insane, Wu would be sent to a state mental hospital until doctors determine he has regained his sanity or can be treated as an outpatient.
To win an insanity plea, Wu and his legal team, led by San Francisco attorney Tony Serra, must prove the engineer either didn't know what he was doing or didn't know it was wrong.
Prosecutors contend Wu's real motive was revenge and say he planned the shootings, including buying 100 bullets after he was fired and returning to the company that afternoon to carry out a vendetta. Wu has said he planned to commit suicide, not shoot anyone in the office where he and his bosses gathered. But in an email, Pugh documented threats Wu had made after a confrontation earlier that day.
Under questioning Wednesday morning by Deputy District Attorney Angela Bernhard, Mohandie said Wu exhibits features of four personality disorders, which led him to overreact to being let go.
Among them are aspects of narcissism, including a grandiose sense of self-importance, lack of empathy for others and a sense of entitlement, the psychologist said. Mohandie noted that after being fired, Wu phoned his wife and told her, "They can't do this to me."
Wu also exhibits paranoid traits and has extreme difficulty adjusting to change.
"What we're talking about here is a rigid, unbending personality who has to have things his way, controlling,'' Mohandie said.
Two doctors -- Mohandie and a court-appointed doctor -- contend that Wu was not insane. Two others -- including a defense expert and another appointed by the court -- say he was.
Mohandie spent more than eight hours interviewing Wu and giving him psychological tests in jail. He also reviewed a mountain of evidence, including Wu's videotaped interrogation by police.
Ultimately, Mohandie's credentials also may prove persuasive. He is a private consultant whose specialties include threat assessment for private companies concerned about workplace violence. He worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for 14 years counseling officers and advising them during hostage-crisis situations.
Despite his background in law enforcement, Mohandie has been hired by the defense about a third of the time, and he stressed his independence. Of the 100 court cases he's reviewed, he's done 20 assessments of defendants who have claimed they were not guilty by reason of insanity. He found four of those defendants were insane, even though he had been hired in three of those cases by prosecutors who hoped he'd reach the opposite conclusion.
Mohandie said he gave Wu a 567-question test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. The expert's analysis revealed that Wu was "grossly exaggerating'' the symptoms of being psychologically disturbed.
"I have sat with a lot of really psychotic people,'' he said. "If Mr. Wu was as psychotic as (the test) would have him appear, he would have been floridly psychotic with me.''
Is he psychotic, Bernhard asked at one point.
Mohandie replied, "Absolutely not."
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport.