SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) When Donald Charles Spirit killed his daughter and six grandchildren Thursday afternoon, as authorities allege, it was not the first time he had killed a family member.
On Nov. 14, 2001, in the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County, Spirit accidentally shot his 9-year-old son Kyle when he was putting his .300-caliber Browning rifle in its case after hunting.
While the shooting was ruled an accident, it led to new legal charges because Spirit had been in trouble with the law before the death.
Now Spirit is dead, having committed suicide outside his house after a deputy responded to a 911 call Spirit had made mentioning harm to others and himself.
“It is another screaming example of what a miserably bad combination that mental health problems — this guy must have had them — and guns or any sort of weapons pose,” State Attorney Bill Cervone said Friday. “There is certainly no easy answer, and I don’t know if there is an answer at all given where our society is at.”
Spirit is not the only family member who has seen the inside of jail or prison.
The daughter who he killed, Sarah Spirit, 28, had been convicted of grand theft.
Edward Kuhlmann, the father of three of the children slain in Thursday’s shooting north of Bell, is currently in Calhoun Correctional Institution on 12 convictions from 2013 on a variety of charges including burglary and grand theft.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said the father of the three other slain children is currently in jail facing charges.
An affidavit filed by Osceola County authorities states that Spirit was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after the death of his son. The report notes previous convictions in Florida and New Jersey.
The convictions that led to the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon were a third-degree felony for marijuana possession from Hillsborough County and repeated cases of driving without a license.
Spirit’s wife at the time, Christine, wrote a 2003 letter to the judge pleading for leniency. She said he was not mentally strong enough to serve the mandatory sentence of three years.
“The loss of our son has really taken a toll on him, and he blames himself everyday. He has punished himself more than the court system ever could punish him,” she wrote. “Since our son’s death, my husband has been severely depressed. The doctors have not found a medication yet to help him. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t catch him crying.”
Christine Spirit wrote that Spirit had been in crisis stabilization twice and that she was fearful he would hurt himself.
Kissimmee lawyer Don Waggoner, Spirit’s attorney in the case, said Friday that Spirit was sentenced to three years. It was an emotional time, Waggoner said, but he never got a sense from Spirit that he would ever kill his daughter and grandchildren.
“I’m really sad for him and for his family. I heard he was having some problems up there,” Waggoner said. “I wouldn’t have thought of him being violent or particularly dangerous to anyone. This was out of the blue and unexpected.”
In addition to the weapons charge, Spirit was convicted in Hillsborough County of battery, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, driving without a valid license and depriving a child of food or shelter.
All the charges were prior to the accidental shooting.
Meanwhile, Kuhlmann is the father of three of Spirit’s grandchildren who were killed — Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11; and Jonathon Kuhlmann, 8.
Kuhlmann is in Calhoun Correctional Institution, with a projected release date of 2038, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website.
Kuhlmann previously spent time in prison from a 2006 resisting-arrest charge in Alachua County and numerous burglary, grand theft and weapons charges from Gilchrist and Hillsborough counties.
Sarah Spirit was on supervised probation after sentencing in May for a 2013 grand theft case in Gilchrist County, DOC reported.