More than a year after killing a man, then turning the gun on himself, a jury found Kenneth Ohler, 48, guilty of two charges of first-degree murder and one charge of home invasion.
Ohler’s jury trial ran four days, beginning Feb. 26, and ending March 1, when it took the jury a little more than an hour to convict Ohler, who showed no emotion in response to the verdicts.
On Dec. 29, 2016, around 6:30 p.m., Ohler barged into Michael and Jeanette Dixon’s East Peoria home on Springfield Road, then pointed a handgun at Michael Dixon. In court, his wife testified that her husband said to Ohler, “Seriously, you’re going to shoot me? Shoot me.”
Upon hearing a gunshot, Jeanette Dixon fled the home and sought help from police at the nearby Festival of Lights that was going on at the time.
When officers entered the home, they found Ohler stretched out on a couch with a self-inflicted bullet wound to the chest. Michael Dixon, 60, was pronounced dead at the scene.
During the trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Cassandra Mullikin said while Ohler was hospitalized, he told a nurse he shot himself to prevent getting arrested. He was released from the hospital and returned to police custody Jan. 23, 2017.
The Dixons and Ohler were not strangers. In May 2016, Ohler moved to Peoria from New Mexico to manage sales at Green Chevrolet. There, he befriended Jeanette Dixon’s son, Alex Preciado, who quickly considered Ohler a mentor.
The two became friends, and traveled to Texas to meet Ohler’s family, Assistant State’s Attorney Jon Giraudo told the jury. In turn, the Dixons invited Ohler to their Thanksgiving dinner.
“Kenneth Ohler started getting jealous,” Giraudo stated at the trial.
A week before the shooting, Ohler allegedly attacked Preciado at work, and was subsequently fired. When Preciado chose to spend Christmas Eve with his girlfriend, Ohler became enraged and sent text messages to Preciado, threatening suicide.
On Dec. 27, 2016 Preciado filed an order of protection against Ohler. The fatal shooting occurred two days later.
Ohler told a much different tale of what took place that night. Ohler blamed alcohol and depression for his actions, and claimed Dixon was accidentally shot while trying to disarm him. The state called Ohler’s story a lie.
During the trial, a former Tazewell County jail inmate testified that Ohler offered him $3,000 upon his release to explode or set fire to Jeanette Dixon’s home while everyone slept. He told the jury Ohler said of the family, “No face, no case.”
Ohler’s sentencing is scheduled for March 29.
—- Man found guilty in East Peoria murder —-