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Keith Johansen, Accused of Murdering His Wife, May Not be Competent to Stand Trial

| September 11, 2018

keith johansen

Keith Johansen.

Keith Johansen’s lawyer is arguing that Johansen may not be able to stand trial because of lack of competency, and the prosecution has agreed to an evaluation. 

Johansen, 36, formerly of 23 Felter Lane, was arrested on April 30 and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife, Brandi Ruth Celenza, at the couple’s home on April 7. He faces life in prison if convicted. 

On Aug. 29, Circuit Judge Terence Perkins ordered the evaluation, agreeing to a joint stipulation by the prosecution and the defense that Johansen “may have a mental illness effecting his mental competency to proceed.” Roger Davis, the court’s  contracted provider of competency exams in parts of the Seventh Judicial Circuit–which includes Flagler–was appointed to conduct the evaluation. 

That does not mean the state is necessarily pushing the theory of Johansen’s possible incompetence, only that it agrees to have him evaluated.

Johansen was scheduled for a pre-trial this morning before Perkins. It was continued, pending the outcome of the competency evaluation. If Johansen is found incompetent to stand trial, it doesn’t end the matter: he would be committed to a secure psychiatric hospital and expected to recover competency enough to then proceed to trial, as is more often the case than not with individuals in similar psychological circumstances. 

Keith Johansen’s 911 Call

Within weeks of the shooting and Johansen’s incarceration, his attorney, Jonathan Bull, told the court that Johansen had been diagnosed “with multiple mental illnesses” at the Flagler County jail, and that he “cannot recall the events that occurred on the day the homicide took place.”  That is not an unusual initial defense in domestic-violence homicides, though Johansen’s behavior after reporting the shooting, as he spoke to a dispatcher, seemed not to make much sense to the dispatcher: he would not get close to the body and provided some incoherent information. He is on “multiple psychotropic drugs,” according to court papers.

Johansen called 911 the morning of April 7 to report that he’d heard gunshots, and that his wife had shot herself in a bedroom while he was in the shower. He told the dispatcher that she’d used a 9mm gun, and he thought the shot had been accidental. Two days later, the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, not an accident.

Celenza’s 6-year-old son was in the house at the time of the incident.  He is listed among the prosecution’s witnesses in the case.

Brandi Celenza-Johansen in the most recent profile image from her Facebook page.

Brandi Celenza in the most recent profile image from her Facebook page.

Proceeding through a deliberate investigation, the Flagler County Sheriff”s Office collected surveillance video footage from within the house–Johansen had installed the cameras in several rooms within–and noticed that camera angles had been manipulated in such a way that whatever took place in the bedroom where Celenza was shot could not be seen, even though previously  a camera had pointed there. 

Other details have recently emerged in the case. Based on court papers, Johansen’s family has asked that property seized during his arrest be returned to his father. The property includes a small arsenal of weapons: a 12-gauge Winchester shotgun, a Springfield Armory 6.56 rifle, a 9mm Ruger and magazine, and a .45 Springfield Armory handgun. The family also requested a car title, a notebook and “miscellaneous papers.”

The notebook appears key for the prosecution. It includes personal writings, according to court papers. Johansen “has made several statements regarding his involvement in this case and raised several different possible defenses,” Jennifer Dunton, the assistant state attorney prosecuting the case, argued in her answer to the motion to release the property. “The notebook may contain information that will be relevant to a possible defense in this case and the State objects to its release at this time.”

Dunton also said that a firearms report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had not yet been received–at least not at the time of the motion–and she was objecting to “the release of any firearms in this case until the firearms used in the homicide have been identified by a firearms expert.”

Court papers indicate that Johansen has run up an $8,500 legal bill so far. He is not being represented by a public defender, and is asking to be declared indigent by the court. 


14 Responses for “Keith Johansen, Accused of Murdering His Wife, May Not be Competent to Stand Trial”

  1. woody says:

    Nuts and broke usual defense.

  2. mark101 says:

    As Always from “the defense that Johansen “may have a mental illness”. Don’t think so. A person with mental illness would have not “\manipulated” the camera angles prior to killing his wife.> What he did was premeditated in changing those camera angles.

  3. Really says:

    Lock him up

  4. Anonymous says:

    Apparently. he wasn’t so nuts that he couldn’t hold job, troll for women endlessly on the internet and own firearms.

  5. Jennifer D says:

    He’s a liar and a horrible person. He planned this, and deserves life in prison. I really hope they don’t fall for his bull s*** act. He’s not mentally ill at all, he’s just a sociopath and a narcissist. He was so obsessed with the joker and Harley Quinn because he put Brandi through the same exact thing using the Stockholm syndrome. So when she was most likely going to leave him and run away from him, he probably found out and actually did it on purpose, so that she wouldn’t be able to be with anybody else, because he is that psychotic. Not psychotic as a mentally IL just psychotic as a he is a horrible person who planned the murder and did the most worst thing in the World to someone that he was supposed to love.

  6. Palm Coast Guy says:

    L and G, are allowing him to continue to live this lie. Sickening. Blame a child? It’s not going to help in the end. Keep it up though, the devil loves it.

  7. Nicole Lewis says:

    He thought he was smart enough to get away with murder let him think he’s got a half chance of being smarter than Forensic science.. between that and karma I think his ego MIGHT get a little hurt

  8. tim says:

    competent enough to shoot a gun, competent to lie and fabricate a BS story and competent to call 911., so therefore hes competent to rot in a jail cell. The judge and attorney allowing this BS are the incompetent jackasses that allow scum like this to live and claim there inability to receive there punishment.

  9. Trailer Bob says:

    Now everyone is mentally sick, but only AFTER they kill someone. I guess you could say ANYONE is sick after they kill someone. The changing of the camera placement is HUGE. And if you think about it, anyone who kills an innocent person with a weapon is sick. Maybe we should start subbing out some of these cases to North Korea.

  10. Christina Scorsone says:

    So true!! She WAS leaving him.. And he is so not incompetent! I knew both of them and can say he was deserves life w/ no chance to hurt anyone again!

  11. kathy roberts says:

    Mentally ill…… a fox!

  12. Geezer says:

    It’s a fine line in individuals which separates intelligence and insanity. Recent findings show
    the same gene that’s attributed to intelligence also makes you more likely to dip into the waters
    of insanity. Johansen was “smart” enough to manipulate the camera angles, and thought he’d fool the
    authorities. Maybe he isn’t all that bright?

    Any person can have one or more of a multitude of metal illnesses seemingly invisible
    to co-workers and family. Some of these illnesses can mitigate responsibility for crimes committed.
    They don’t absolve you of guilt in most cases.

    There’s people out there who are highly intelligent, who commit violent criminal acts while barely
    seeing their pulse elevate.

    Then there’s the Ted Bundy’s of the world. A lawyer who actually worked at a suicide hotline call
    center “talking people down…” He had a high IQ, but was indeed mentally ill. He had a “thing”
    for fresh corpses.

    SCHIZOPHRENIA – David Berkowitz (IQ 110, “above average”)
    BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER – Jeffrey Dahmer, a necrophile (IQ 145, “gifted”)
    ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER – Ted Bundy, another necrophile (IQ 136, “gifted”)
    All given life in prison or death. They didn’t get off despite having bats in the belfry…

    “He is on “multiple psychotropic drugs,” (Johansen) according to court papers.”
    Johansen has a history of mental illness…
    A great lawyer can exploit these facts and argue that Keith Johansen isn’t 100% responsible for
    the awful crime he’s accused of. Johansen’s claiming that he’s broke—well, his defense won’t be
    of the stellar variety.

    Anyone can assert mental incompetence, but their mileage will vary.
    Never incorrectly assume that being “smart” or clever negates insanity or mental illness.

    I envision Keith Johansen serving a life sentence after all is sorted out.

  13. Geezer says:

    Correction to my previous comment:

    Ted Bundy attended law school but never graduated.
    He was not a lawyer. His mind was on other things
    while attending the University of Utah Law School.

  14. Gottobeme says:

    This man needs to be locked up for life. Claims of mentally ill are was to slow down the sentencing. Keep pulling at straws you sir are going up in flames.

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