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Palm Coast Friday, Apr. 27, 2018 6 months ago

Keith Johansen charged with murder in Felton Lane shooting death of wife Brandi Celenza

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Johansen, 36, is charged with second-degree murder with a weapon.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Keith Johansen, 36, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder with a weapon at about 4 p.m. April 27 in connection with the April 7 shooting death of his wife, Brandi Celenza, at their home on Felter Lane in Palm Coast, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. 

Keith John Allen Johansen (Photo courtesy of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

The Sheriff's Office initially investigated 25-year-old Celenza's death as suspicious, only publicly calling it a homicide on April 27, the date of Johansen's arrest.

Celenza had been shot twice in the chest with a 9-mm handgun.

“We suspected from the start of this investigation that this was a murder, but time was on our side with this case and we took it slowly in order to build the strongest case possible,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a Sheriff's Office news release. “It took time for FDLE to analyze the forensic evidence and to obtain electronically stored evidence through out-of-state search warrants. Our deputies and detectives did a phenomenal job in working this case from start to finish, and I am very proud of them. The community should be very proud of our capable team and know that we have the ability to solve intricate and difficult cases.” 

The electronically-stored evidence, according to the Sheriff's Office news release, consisted of surveillance video recording from an elaborate home security system at the home at 23 Felter Lane. A search warrant was required to get the footage from the California-based company that stored it. 

"This was a major undertaking in the case that caused a significant delay as the company was initially unresponsive and did not quickly cooperate," the news release states. "The footage was finally received and reviewed by detectives who determined the video footage greatly conflicted with the statements Johansen gave 9-1-1 dispatchers and deputies at the scene on April 7."

The footage showed Johansen and Celenza in "clear, heated arguments" on April 5; then, on April 7, the camera angle toward the master bedroom, where Celenza was killed, was no longer recording. 

Meanwhile, a morion activated camera in the dining room area showed no one in the house other than Johansen, Celenza and Celenza's 6-year-old son. The front door was locked.

At 10:33 a.m., Johansen appears on surveillance in the living room wearing a shirt and boxers. He grabs the pair of jeans he was wearing at the time of the 911 call at 10:37 a.m. His voice is recorded on the video — about two seconds of him speaking "in an argumentative manner," according to an arrest report.

Then motion activation is no longer active on the cameras. At 10:37 a.m. the surveillance cameras record Johansen telling the 911 operator he was checking for injuries on Celenza. But he wasn't: While he told the dispatcher he was checking on his wife, according to the report, he was "clearly depicted removing narcotics evidence in the living room and hiding it prior to law enforcement arrival. He is not checking the body for injuries or looking for the location of injuries."

When a dispatcher asked Johansen if he was applying pressure to Celenza's wound, Johansen "stated that he was wet, sliding on his floor and that he could not see it (referring to the wound). Johansen stated that he did not want to risk sliding and hurting Celenza or have the guns go off. Again, Johansen stated that he could not apply pressure to the wound because there was too much stuff around her," according to the arrest report.

The Medical Examiner had ruled Celenza's death a homicide on April 9. The death investigation involved an autopsy, laboratory tests and multiple search warrants to rule out suicide.

Johansen was arrested at his home and will be booked at the county jail and held without bond, according to the news release. He had a protection order against domestic violence from a previous relationship and had previously been arrested in Flagler County in 2008 on a charge of driving without a valid driver's license, according to the news release.

“Unfortunately this is another domestic homicide in our county,” Sheriff Staly said in the news release. “A young woman and mother lost her life, and a young son lost his mother, because in a moment of rage her husband thought violence was the answer. I hope that he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Violence is never the answer.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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