CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Deborah Pearl was driving her car through the intersection of Solon Road and Richmond Road in August of 2016.
Matthew Desha went through a light and struck her car. He then got out with an AR-15 rifle and began shooting; 22 shots in all.
He hit and killed Pearl, but this was no road rage incident.
In the 18 months since the murder, Desha has gone through a battery of psychological tests.
Both the prosecution and the defense were in agreement: He is not competent to stand trial.
A psychiatrist described his vision in the time before the murder saying, “When he went outside immediately prior to the incident, he saw several UFOs with flashing lights.”
A frightening fact revealed for the first time in court is that before the crash and murder, Desha had driven into Cleveland looking for people he deemed to be the enemy and kill them. He was high on the psychotic drug MDMA, one abused for recreational use at the time of the murder.
Over time, his symptoms only got worse.
The question is what to do with him. The solution was one that all agreed on.
He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He will spend life detained at Northcoast Behavioral in what is called a civil confinement.
Pearl’s family agrees with the decision.
Her son, Dario, told Judge Kathleen Sutula, “We’re going to get through this. We’re going to continue to fight and we’re going to continue to stay strong as a family.”
Judge Sutula seemed moved by what she heard in what is a very unusual case.