Only through counseling and medication did Kyle A. Odom realize that the Coeur d’Alene pastor he shot six times was not an alien taking over the lives of other humans.
Pastor Tim Remington, 56, who survived the ambush by Odom on March 6, 2016, struggled Monday into the courtroom in a body that still is wracked by pain. His first stop was Odom’s family, whom he offered only good wishes.
In an extraordinary case filled with forgiveness, mental illness and violence, First District Judge Lansing Haynes sentenced Odom, 31, to 10 years in prison with another 15 years to be determined by Idaho prison officials. Odom pleaded guilty in July to aggravated battery with a firearm.
Haynes read what he called Odom’s autobiography. It was sent to media outlets and was on thumb drives that Odom threw over the gate of the White House in Washington, D.C., prompting his arrest on March 8, 2016, by the U.S. Secret Service.
“It read like a science fiction novel, as if the author was a completely sane man living in … an alien possession of human beings,” Haynes said of Odom’s manifesto. “It’s hard to know what forces are being exerted or what they consist of.
“But there is one supernatural force that is in play here today,” Haynes continued, “and that is forgiveness. We certainly hear plenty about vengeance and accountability. But forgiveness from one wronged is not something we often hear. I’m thankful to hear that.”
In a brief pause while Haynes left to consider his ruling, Remington gathered everyone in the courtroom who wanted, including Odom’s family, to pray.
He described in detail how the first bullet in the ambush attack struck him in the middle of the back. The second bullet struck him in the rear of the pelvis. After going down, four more bullets hit him in the side and arm.
“I was on the phone with my son,” Remington said as his voice cracked. “He heard it. He came back to the site and saw me there. The officer wouldn’t let him close, which bothers me. I thought it was going to be my last breath. I just wanted to talk to someone from the family.”
One bullet hit Remington’s arm bone, shattering it, before changing direction and hitting him in the skull. Three bullets remain in his body. He’s talked with Vietnam veterans who counseled him how to separate the pain in his arm from the rest of his body.
“How has it impacted me? I don’t think there is any place of my life it hasn’t impacted. My family,” Remington said as his voice broke. “My hand feels like it’s in a deep fryer at all times.”
Yet, Remington has consistently said that he does not hold the life-altering shooting against Odom.
“Kyle, you need to know that we do forgive you,” he said. “I told him, ‘What you have in me is a friend, no matter what you did.’ ”
Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor Becky Perez played the video of the shooting captured on the Altar Church cameras. It shows Remington talking on a cell phone at his car as Odom suddenly appears in a shooting position. He fired 12 shots in a couple of seconds.
Odom, who earned a biochemistry degree from the University of Idaho, served in the Marines with distinction, was honorably discharged and had no prior criminal history.
He said he was in meditation one day in 2014 when his life changed.
“When I got up the next day, it felt like I was dreaming and I could not wake up,” he said. “I feel the same way to this day.”
He said he met a strange man on an airplane who told him to purchase a disposable phone.
“I activated the phone and a little while later I was contacted by Pastor Tim Remington,” Odom said. “All my symptoms started immediately. I saw the pastor’s face as an alien face. I was convinced Pastor Tim was an alien. I just hope that Pastor Tim recovers as much as possible.”
Odom, who had served his country in Iraq and dreamed of becoming a pharmacist, offered Remington’s family an apology.
“Words cannot reverse what happened,” he said. “But I’m truly sorry.”
Defense attorney Chris Schwartz said the “antiquated and draconian” Idaho criminal justice system is not set up to handle someone, like Odom, who suffers from schizophrenia. He said other states would have allowed him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
“Mr. Odom thought I was morphing into some kind of other being. When I first met him, he still thought Pastor Tim was some other being,” Schwartz said. “I’ll never forget the conversation … when he came to grips with this, that thing were not as he perceived and he had shot an innocent person.”