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.
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.