VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A woman accused of fatally shooting her terminally ill husband Saturday at AdventHealth Daytona Beach — in what police said resulted from a murder-suicide agreement — made her first appearance in Volusia County court Sunday morning.
Ellen Gilland, 76, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, records show.
Neither the state attorney nor the public defender Gilland was assigned had anything to add during her first appearance as Judge Mary G. Jolley said she read the police report and found probable cause, granting Gilland no bond amount on any charge.
“Based on the nature of the charge, Mrs. Gilland, I am going to hold you no bond on the murder charge and the remaining charges,” Jolley said.
Gilland surrendered to Daytona Beach police around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, having spent the better part of four hours barricaded in her husband’s room after shooting him, officials said.
According to Daytona Beach police Chief Jakari Young, she couldn’t go through with the agreement she made three weeks prior with her husband, 77-year-old Jerry Gilland, who Ellen told police had been ill for some time.
“The goal was for him to do it, but he did not have the strength, so she had to carry it out for him,” Young said. “We were able to establish a dialogue with her, we used a distractionary device to get her to put that gun down long enough for us to hit her with less lethal (force) and get her into custody.”
The surrounding area was evacuated of staff and patients as some took cover in locked closets and rooms. Gilland did not harm herself and nobody else was injured, police said, adding that the specific hospital floor being dedicated to terminally ill patients made for an additional challenge.
“This was somewhat of a logistical nightmare which is why I’m very proud of my team, because that 11th floor is made up of terminally ill patients, so pretty much all the patients on that floor are on ventilators so they didn’t have the room to evacuate that entire floor, so they evacuated the rooms where it was the most important to get them out of the way,” Young said.
[STORY CONTINUES BELOW]
The couple is from New Smyrna Beach, though it remains unclear how long the husband was a patient at AdventHealth Daytona Beach, according to police.
The hospital issued the following statement Saturday night on Facebook:
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-District 42, discussed the growing national conversation surrounding “Death With Dignity,” a law already passed in some states that allows terminally ill patients to request lethal medication if they choose to.
Here in Florida, a similar bill — SB 1800 — stalled in 2020.
“It definitely continues to be a topic that I don’t think is well understood among lawmakers,” Eskamani said. “Despite the conversation on the ground, the Legislature seems pretty non-interested at this time.”
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: