Judge dismisses intentional murder charge, will weigh mental illness in trial of patient at mental health facility

An intentional murder charge against a patient accused of killing his roommate at a mental health facility in St. Peter has been dismissed, according to court documents.

Court records show that charges of unintentional murder and first-, second- and fourth-degree assault against 43-year-old David Michael Otey still stand, and Judge Allison Krehbiel wrote the prosecutors proved Otey committed those acts. However, Otey’s mental illness defense still has to be determined before any convictions or acquittals can be entered.

As for the intentional murder charge, Krehbiel’s order says that the state wasn’t able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Otey meant to kill his roommate when he bashed him over the head with an electric guitar. The order cites Otey’s words when he told staff to check on his roommate, who was identified in the document as Abdirashid Mohamed Hussein.

“When Defendant approached staff, he did not tell them that he killed Mr. Hussein,” the order states. “He stated that he had hit Mr. Hussein that Mr. Hussein was injured, and that staff should check on Mr. Hussein. It does not appear that Defendant desired for Mr. Hussein to die. The evidence thus does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant intended to cause the death of Mr. Hussein.”

As previously reported, the attack happened around 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day at the Forensic Mental Health Program in St. Peter. The program works to treat people who have been civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous.

The court order confirms that Otey was committed by Crow Wing County District Court after killing his sister in 2018.

First responders who were called to the facility were told that staff members were locked in an office and that one was hurt. Officers found Otey pacing in the hallway and were able to calm him down and handcuff him.

Court documents state that Hussein was found with “obvious trauma to his head and face,” and had a “significant” amount of blood pooling around him. He was taken to a hospital but later died.

Staff members told police that Otey walked out of his room and eventually walked up to the staff desk and said someone should check on his roommate because he’d bashed him with a guitar. When staff members started responding to his room, Otey began choking a staff member.

Other staff intervened and locked themselves in an office until police arrived.