Nevada County murder suspect Jason Schuller said he thought CIA wanted to recruit him, was paving way for Jesus’ return | TheUnion.com

Nevada County murder suspect Jason Schuller said he thought CIA wanted to recruit him, was paving way for Jesus’ return

Jason Schuller

Murder suspect Jason Schuller on Tuesday testified in his own defense, telling jurors that inanimate objects communicated with him and he thought he was telepathic in the months before he fatally shot William Tackett.

Schuller, 36, said that at one point he believed the CIA or Secret Service wanted to recruit him. He later thought the Illuminati — a centuries' old secret society — was contacting him.

"I started hearing voices and seeing things," Schuller said. "I thought I was telepathic. I thought I was hearing people's thoughts. I thought it was a gift."

Speaking most of Tuesday, Schuller testified that he shot Tackett at his Banner View Drive home on March 20, 2016, after the 67-year-old pulled a knife from a kitchen drawer. Schuller grabbed a gun and asked Tackett if he were Lucifer. Tackett, a friend for about two years, said he was.

When Schuller put the weapon down, Tackett moved for the gun and raised the knife, Schuller said.

"I remember picking it up and taking a step or two back and …" Schuller testified, his voice then lowering, "pulling the trigger."

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Moments later Schuller saw what he called a demon enter Tackett's body. Schuller then poured gasoline on the body and lit a cigarette, he said.

Authorities allege Schuller set Tackett's body on fire before fleeing to Sacramento, where he was caught.

Testimony

Schuller faces a murder charge in connection with Tackett's March 2016 death. He's pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

If jurors find Schuller guilty, they will proceed to a second stage of the trial to determine if he was insane at the time of Tackett's death.

Testifying into the afternoon, Schuller spent much of the time telling jurors about the final trip he took from his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, to Tackett's Grass Valley home.

Schuller — who said he believed his purpose was to pave the way for the return of Jesus Christ — testified that he had a "light" he could share with people. The light produced different responses depending on the person and he experienced several supernatural occurrences on the trip to California. A friend tried to kill him in Omaha. "Ninja stars" and swords wielded against him disappeared. He saw clouds take demon shapes on his drive back.

Schuller said he was protected during these attacks by the "armor of God."

Arriving at his friend's home on March 20, 2016, Schuller said he thought his trials had ended. He drank beers with Tackett and used his shower.

Afterward Tackett asked to see the light again. When he did, Tackett took control of the light, something no one else had accomplished, Schuller said.

"He said, 'See, I told you I could take it from him,'" Schuller testified. "He was looking outside when he said it. He was smiling."

Moments later Schuller shot Tackett, who tried to rise after falling to the floor. Schuller shot him four to five more times, he said.

The prosecution

Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh questioned Schuller about the armor of God protecting him on the trip to Grass Valley before the shooting and his flight to Sacramento after Tackett's death. Walsh asked why the armor wasn't active when Tackett raised a knife against him.

Walsh referenced the "ninja stars" and swords, noting Schuller said they'd disappeared.

"But when this old man lifted up a knife, you had to shoot him 10 times?" Walsh asked.

Schuller said he knew his armor was "depleting," and had felt that lessening since Winnemucca, Nevada.

Attacking Schuller's story, Walsh asked if he'd attempted to fool the jury. Schuller said his story was true, leading Walsh to then ask if he believed he's crazy.

"In my opinion, that's tough," Schuller said.

Walsh asked Schuller if he'd had time to consider what he'd tell jurors, noting his case has been pending over a year. Schuller said he didn't think his case would reach trial.

"I don't feel I'm guilty of what I'm accused of," Schuller said. "I thought I'd get manslaughter."

Pivoting to a possible motive in the case, Walsh read portions of Schuller's interview with police that happened after his arrest. In that interview Schuller said that he'd lie down and Tackett would then approach. He also told police that Tackett acted weird.

Jesse McKenna testified last week that Schuller came out to Tackett, who then revoked his invitation from his home. Schuller on Tuesday disputed that, saying neither of them were gay.

Walsh told Schuller that he either lied to police during the interview or to jurors on Tuesday, adding that Schuller never talked about his visions until evidence linked him to the shooting.

"I didn't know who to trust," Schuller said, saying he'd lied to police and been truthful with the jury. "I thought the cops were trying to kill me."

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.