The Pensacola teenager who admitted to shooting and killing his mother with his father's shotgun intends to plead insanity.
Eighteen-year-old David Allan Ohlson has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder for shooting his mother, 48-year-old Adriana Ohlson. Last week, Ohlson's attorney, Sharon Wilson, filed a motion with the court of intent to rely on an insanity defense.
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According to the motion, there are five particulars of his defense: diagnosed psychotic disorder with hallucinations and delusions, mood disorder, severely impaired mental processes, adjustment disorder and reduced cognitive, emotional and personality controls. Several local doctors are also listed as witnesses.
Ohlson has been in the Escambia County Jail without bond since he was arrested April 8 for killing his mother at their Bellview home. Ohlson admitted to Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies he shot her in the abdomen and told them "of all the people he planned to shoot he did not expect his mother to be one of them." He said he was upset because his parents had recently separated, and he believed his mother was going to leave.
Ohlson's father, 43-year-old Aaron Ohlson, witnessed the shooting and reported it as "accidental." He told deputies he and his wife were separated, but he came to the house early that morning because Adriana Ohlson called him for help with their son who had a shotgun. David Ohlson said he had calmed down and unloaded the weapon by the time his father arrived, but when his dad got there he loaded a round in the chamber and shot his mother.
"It was a shotgun in the house for family protection," said Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons. "His dad bought it and it was in the house for family protection. It was in a safe, but David Ohlson had access to the safe."
Simmons said he was unaware if there were other weapons in the house, but a friend and former classmate of David Ohlson's, 19-year-old Zavian Johnson, said shooting guns was a pastime of David's and his father's.
"He loved his guns, you know. He loved weapons," Johnson said. "If I wasn't taking David out, his father was trying to do manly things with him, as in take him out fishing or to shoot somewhere. His father taught him how to shoot a lot of guns, they have a long history of shooting guns. They did a lot of father-son things together. They were very close. He was closer to his father than his mother."
Johnson, who now lives in Georgia, said he has known Ohlson since they met in Ferry Pass Middle School and later attended Pine Forest High School together. He said Ohlson was in Junior Reserves Officers' Training Corps for two years and at one time wanted to join the military. Johnson said Ohlson was one of his best friends and they regularly hung out with the same friend group, playing online video games like "Halo" and "Call of Duty," going to the beach or driving around doing "teenage stuff."
The murder shocked Johnson because he said Ohlson was normally a funny, positive person who loved his parents. However, Johnson said, his friend had become more withdrawn since last fall. Around that time, Johnson said Ohlson stopped being as active in their online chat group or playing video games. He said Ohlson was also stressed over the fact his parents wanted him to become more independent after he turned 18 in August.
"David said, 'My parents have been getting on to me to find a good job, like a job in general, but I really don't want to find a job.' His family is a hard-working family," Johnson said, "and David, he felt like he couldn’t really do what he wanted to do, which I understand, but we're not really kids anymore, we're adults."
Tristan Michael has also known David Ohlson since middle school and said they were the best of friends until Ohlson's defiant behavior got so bad Michael stopped spending time with him.
"His mom did everything for him no matter what it was, she loved that boy," Michael said. "He would cuss his mom out and all that. It honestly sucks because that's messed up. His mom is supposed to be his world and she was a great person."
Last November, Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a call at Ohlson's home in Bellview. According to the incident report, the Pine Forest High School student wanted to report child pornography he found online while searching on his smart phone for "pornographic photos involving feces, which he states is his sexual fetish." Ohlson told the officer he clicked on an image of a "minor female child" so he could get the web address and report it, but when the deputy asked for the information, Ohlson couldn't remember it and had cleared the browser history on his cellphone. No further action was taken.
Johnson said Ohlson had also recently been in trouble at school, but he didn't know why. The Escambia School District has not responded to multiple public information requests.
Insanity pleas in matricide cases
Locally, Ohlson is not the first criminal defendant to plead insanity for killing his mother. In 2018, a Santa Rosa County judge found U.S. Army veteran Chris Lynch not guilty by reason of insanity for savagely beating 61-year-old Cheryl Lynch to death with a metal rod on Mother's Day 2016. Several medical professionals testified the then 38-year-old man was psychotic and insane at the time of his mother's death due to a traumatic brain injury he suffered during military service.
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In 2016, William "Brandon" Aydelott was found not guilty by reason of insanity for brutally attacking his mother in the doorway of her home on Christmas Eve 2013. The 17-year-old Gulf Breeze High School student used multiple weapons, including a carving knife he brought from his father's apartment and a baseball bat his mother bought him. A doctor testified Aydelott was schizophrenic, which caused hallucinations and made him hear voices that drove him to violently kill 48-year-old Sharon Hill Aydelott.
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Aydelott's sister, Pam Hill, said at first she thought the insanity plea was the best way to get justice for Sharon, who she believed would not have wanted her son in prison. Defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity are remanded into the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families and are confined to secure psychiatric facilities. However, it has now been seven years since Brandon Aydelott received the verdict and the outcome is not what Hill expected.
"I was promised, along with the general public, by State Attorney Bill Eddins, that he would never get out because Bill Eddin's said, 'For God's sake, he killed his mother,'" Hill explained. "But every six months, his case comes up before the court to see if he meets the criteria to stay in treatment at Florida State Hospital or will doctors recommend moving him to a less-restrictive program or even try to send him back home to Gulf Breeze, Florida, but it's all about Brandon's rights and where he wants to be. I don't care what he wants. I'm sure my sister would like to be alive to raise her baby girl. This is not justice for Sharon."
Both Chris Lynch and Brandon Aydelott were sent to Florida State Hospital in Chattahootchee, where they have already progressed from high-security facilities to less-secure units on the grounds. At one point, they were in the same place and program together at FSH, although the two men already knew each other. They became friends when they were placed in the same Santa Rosa County Jail cell in 2016, after Lynch was arrested for killing his mom. Aydelott was also there for a hearing to determine if he was competent to stand trial for killing his. The two men hit it off and Hill discovered the relationship when they wrote her letters asking for care packages. She had Brandon moved to a different cell at the time, but these experiences have left her skeptical about the criminal justice system.
"My other sister and I are sentenced to a life sentence because we don't know what's going to happen with Brandon," Hill said. "We know he won't even take his medication while he's there being frog-marched in chains. We know he tried to kill somebody while he was there, we know he said he isn't through killing his family, we know had a hit list. We know we have to live scared and we're not killers. None of us will ever be safe if Brandon gets out."
Hill is compassionate to people with mental illness, but said there's a dangerous distinction with psychopathy. Guilty by reason of insanity is not an option in the state of Florida. As a result, a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity means a defendant is legally exonerated even if they confessed to the crime, like authorities say Lynch, Aydelott and Ohlson did. Cases like these leave friends and families feeling torn.
"You wouldn't expect the crazy, you know," Johnson said. "He's always been a good person."
"(Adriana Ohlson) meant a lot. Even though I wasn't her son, she treated me as her own. It was so heartbreaking," Michael said. "I hope he gets life or at least a few good years. I'm not a heartless person, but he crossed the line."
Ohlson's next court date is June 29.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Adriana Ohlson murder: Son accused of killing mom to plead insanity