DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A 76-year-old woman accused of fatally shooting her terminally ill husband in a Florida hospital is asking to be released from jail.
Ellen Gilland was initially charged with first-degree murder in January after police said she shot Jerry Gilland, 77, in a suicide pact that she claimed had been in the work for weeks. However, she could not carry through with turning the gun on herself after shooting her husband in his 11th-floor AdventHealth Daytona Beach hospital room, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said at a news conference after the Jan. 21 incident.
Instead, Gilland engaged in a four-hour standoff with police officers. They eventually used a nonlethal explosive to distract her and take her into custody, Young said. She’s been held at the Volusia County Jail since her arrest.
On Wednesday, Gilland was indicted on lesser charges of assisting self-murder/manslaughter and aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer. Now her lawyers are seeking a bond hearing.
“None of the charges against Ms. Gilland are capital offenses or offenses punishable by life imprisonment. Therefore, Ms. Gilland is entitled to pretrial release,” attorney Matthew Ferry wrote in a motion filed late Wednesday.
The motion cites a section of the Florida Constitution which states that anyone charged with a crime is entitled to pretrial release “on reasonable conditions” unless the crime is a capital offense or a crime punishable by life in prison.
A bond hearing has not been set. Her next scheduled court appearance is a pre-trial hearing March 22.
The police chief said the couple had decided that if Jerry Gilland’s unnamed illness took a turn for the worse, “he wanted her to end this.”
Young said her husband had apparently planned to kill himself “but he didn’t have the strength so she had to carry it out.”
That’s when they decided on “a murder suicide,” the chief said. “But she decided she couldn’t go through with it.”
Two hospital workers heard a gunshot from room 1106, and saw Ellen Gilland sitting beside the bed with her husband unresponsive in a pool of blood, a police report said. She pointed the weapon at the pair and told them to leave the room. Another staffer also entered and was told to leave.
Patients were evacuated from nearby rooms, which Young described as “a logistical nightmare” since most of the patients on the 11th floor were on ventilators.
Officers lined up in the hallway with guns drawn toward the open door of Gilland’s room. They repeatedly yelled, “Drop the gun!” according to video from an officer’s body camera recorded about 10 minutes after the shooting.
“Tell me what’s going on. We don’t want to hurt you,” one officer called out. Another told a colleague, “Back up. Back up. We got time. We got nothing but time.”
After setting off the explosive, SWAT team members entered the room and tried to use a stun gun, but it failed to subdue Ellen Gilland. She fired a shot into the ceiling, then dropped the weapon and was taken into custody, the police report said.
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