- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Denver man who said marijuana intoxication caused him to kill his wife in 2014 was sentenced Friday to 30 years behind bars for second-degree murder.

Richard Kirk learned his fate Friday nearly three years to the day after he fatally shot his wife, Kristine, inside their Denver residence while the couple’s three children were home.

Kirk, 50, said he consumed a potent marijuana edible prior to pulling the trigger on April 14, 2014, and previously pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder by reason of insanity, citing the supposed marijuana intoxication. He was ultimately deemed competent to stand trial, however, and agreed in February to plead guilty to one count of second-degree murder in lieu of having the case heard in court.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Kirk maintained marijuana caused him to kill his wife.

“If I had not ingested that marijuana edible, I would not have made the decision I made that night,” Kirk told the judge Friday, according to a local NBC affiliate.

“Kris was the love of my life and my best friend. I will always love her,” he continued, acknowledging: “Unknowingly, it was my hand that shot and killed her.”

In delivering a 30-year prison stint Friday, Denver District Court Judge Martin Foster Egelhoff handed down the harshest sentence allowed under the terms of February’s plea agreement. 

“All involved feel this is a fair resolution of a very complicated, tragic case,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement. “The family did not want the case to go to trial given the personal and emotional toll family members have already suffered.

In addition to serving in prison, Kirk has also been ordered to formally relinquish parental rights to the couple’s three children to his victim’s parents. He would have faced up to life in prison if convicted on the initial charge of first-degree murder.

Kristine Kirk spent about 13 minutes on the phone with police dispatchers prior to being murdered, at one point insisting her husband was “totally hallucinating” after having consumed a marijuana edible. But a subsequent toxicology report revealed that Richard Kirk’s blood contained less than half the amount of THC needed to charge motorists in Colorado with driving under the influence of marijuana.

Colorado became the first state in the country to let adults purchase marijuana and cannabis-infused products without a prescription in January 2014. Seven other states and the nation’s capital have since implemented recreational marijuana programs of their own, notwithstanding the federal government’s ongoing prohibition against pot.

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