A Colorado man accused of killing his wife after eating marijuana-infused candy changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity on Sept. 21.
Richard Kirk, 49, faces first-degree murder charges in the April 2014 shooting death of his wife, Kristine Kirk, CBS Denver reports. Just before she was shot, Kristine was on the phone with 911 dispatchers, telling them that her husband was acting more drunk than violent, crawling through a bedroom window, and cutting his legs on broken glass.
Richard's attorneys have suggested that he was so impaired by the candy that he may not have intended to kill her. However, prosecutors argue that he was cognizant enough to remember the code to a gun safe and press the weapon against his wife's head. The couple was reported to have been experiencing some marital and financial problems at the time of murder.
The shooting increased concerns about the effects of marijuana edibles which have become popular since states like Colorado legalized recreational marijuana usage. Two other deaths have been been linked to marijuana-infused snacks, CBS Denver reported in March of this year. In 2014, a young man jumped from a hotel balcony after consuming a marijuana cookie, and in March 2015, another college student killed himself via a self-inflicted gunshot wound after having consumed several marijuana-infused candies. In the case of the former, the Denver coroner ruled "marijuana intoxication" as a major factor in his death.
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However, it is unclear what role marijuana could play in Kirk's defense. Voluntary drug and alcohol use cannot be the sole basis for an insanity defense in Colorado. In order to be found legally insane, Kirk's attorneys would need to prove that he suffered from a mental illness apart from his marijuana use that prohibited him from being able to tell right from wrong.
Experts will now examine Kirk's behavior and take his mental health history into consideration. Dr. Andrew Monte, a defense witness, stated that Kirk was intoxicated with THC, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, which led to delirium.
“He is prone to unraveling both cognitively and emotionally when under stress, and symptoms are likely to include features of paranoia, significant distortions in thinking and unrestrained affect,” clinical psychologist Katherine Bellon wrote in her report, according to CBS Denver.
Kirk will be evaluated at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo before his hearing, which is scheduled for Dec. 17.
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Photo Credit: Denver Police Department