Family members of Ben Gully said he was not taking medication to control his "severe mental illness" in the days prior to shooting and killing his father.
"He's not in touch with reality at all," said his mother, Mary Gully. "He needs to be medicated."
Gully's mother and stepmother would not elaborate on why Gully was not being medicated. Both women said they always feared that Gully might hurt himself but never imagined him harming others.
Gully made his first appearance in court Wednesday, just hours after Davis County prosecutors charged him with one count of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Jim Gully, 61, while they were hunting Saturday.
Dressed in a red prison jumpsuit with his hands shackled in front of his body, the 19-year-old smiled and calmly greeted 2nd District Judge Jon Memmott.
"Hi, your honor. How are you?" said Gully. "Good to see you."
Minutes later, the 19-year-old turned around, waved and flashed a wide smile at his family, who filled the second row of Memmott's courtroom. A bailiff had to tell Gully to turn back around and face the judge.
Gully's family said he suffers from severe mental illness and was not taking any medication to control his mental problems. "I think that's really indicative of how he doesn't understand the gravity of the situation," said his stepmother, Janice Perry Gully. "He doesn't really grasp what he's doing. When he's re-medicated, he's going to be devastated. Absolutely devastated."
Doctors have struggled to diagnose Gully's mental illness since his first hospitalization in December 2003. It was then that Gully first displayed signs of psychosis, Janice Perry Gully said.
During that first psychotic episode, the Brighton High School graduate let out a "blood-curdling scream" every three to five minutes, Janice Perry Gully said.
"We asked, 'Why are you doing that,' and he said, 'I have to keep the earth turning,' " Janice Perry Gully said. He was hospitalized for nine days at that time.
Gully suffered from what his stepmother called a "rolling diagnosis." "It's so hard to tell when somebody is psychotic if it's bipolar, schizophrenia or if it's a combination of the two," Janice Perry Gully said. Doctors were in the process of determining what mental illness Gully suffered from.
The father and son regularly went duck hunting, Mary Gully said. The duck hunting season recently opened, and both wanted to hunt. While driving back from looking at some property, Jim Gully asked Ben if he wanted to go hunting Saturday or Sunday, and Ben wanted to go Saturday.
Dressed in hip waders, blue jeans and a hunting field jacket, Gully slipped into a psychotic state sometime during the hunt Saturday, members of his family said. Police believe Gully shot his father in the face from close range. Jim Gully died instantly.
Witnesses told police they heard gunshots, followed by screams and shots of profanity. A group of hunters ran toward the scene, and the 19-year-old screamed for help.
When asked if the shooting was an accident, the young man reportedly said, "No, he just wouldn't shut up and I shot him," said Matt Heidrich, who was hunting nearby.
Janice Perry Gully said she knows that Jim instantly forgave his son for shooting him.
"He was a wonderful, wonderful, gentle man who is going to be very missed," Janice Perry Gully said. "I miss him."
A funeral Mass in Jim Gully's honor will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at St. Catherine's Newman Center. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Utah's National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
Davis County District Attorney Mel Wilson said Gully confessed to sheriff's deputies that he had killed his father.
"This was not accidental," Wilson said. Prosecutors are unsure of a motive for the killing, but added Gully and his father did not argue before the shooting.
If Gully's attorney, Fred Metos, chooses to go with an insanity defense he must prove that Gully couldn't form a specific intent to kill his father and that he was incapable of conforming his conduct to the law.
"Under these circumstances, we don't feel it rises to that level," Wilson said. "At least with what we know right now."
Gully remains in the Davis County Jail on $500,000 bail. Doctors will evaluate his mental state before another court hearing scheduled for Dec. 3.