Charges: Patient at St. Peter mental health facility bashed roommate to death with guitar

A patient at a state-run mental health facility in St. Peter has died after being attacked by a fellow patient on New Year’s Day.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) says the attack happened at around 1 a.m. Monday at the north campus of the Forensic Mental Health Program, formerly known as the Minnesota Security Hospital. The program works to treat people who have been civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous.

According to charging documents, police and medical personnel were called to the facility and told that several staff members were locked in an office and one was hurt. Officers arrived and found 43-year-old David Michael Otey pacing the hallway. They were able to calm him down and handcuff him.

Otey’s roommate was found with “obvious trauma to his head and face,” and had a “significant” amount of blood pooling around him, the criminal complaint states. He was taken to a hospital but later died.

Staff members told officers that Otey had returned to his room sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. on Monday. A short time later, he came back out of his room, walked up to the staff desk and said someone should check on his roommate because he’d bashed him with a guitar, according to court documents. When staff members started responding to his room, Otey allegedly jumped over the desk and started choking a staff member.

The other staff members intervened and then locked themselves in an office until police arrived.

Otey was charged with second-degree murder, second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault on Tuesday afternoon.

“This tragic incident has left our patients and staff badly shaken,” DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts now are with the victim’s family and friends who have suffered a terrible loss.”We are cooperating with law enforcement and have begun our own internal review. Due to data privacy laws, we cannot release the names of either patient.”

An investigation remains active and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting police.