DENVER — A judge ordered a Denver man on Friday to stand trial in the killing of his wife, who told dispatchers moments before her death that he was paranoid and hallucinating after eating marijuana-infused candy.
Defense attorneys for 48-year-old Richard Kirk suggested during a preliminary hearing that he was so impaired by the pot that he may not have intended to kill his wife.
But Judge Elizabeth Starrs said there was enough evidence for a trial on a charge of first-degree murder because Kirk showed he had the wherewithal to remember the code to a locked gun safe and press the weapon to his wife's head nearly 13 minutes into her call with the 911 dispatcher.
"That's more than enough evidence to establish probable cause," Starrs said.
The ruling came after more than two hours of testimony from Denver police Detective Troy Bisgard, who drew no conclusions about whether the candy Kirk bought at one of Colorado's pot shops had influenced his erratic behavior on the night of the April shooting.
He said the only substance found in Kirk's blood was THC, marijuana's intoxicating chemical.
The detective said the victim, 44-year-old Kristine Kirk, told dispatchers her husband was so impaired after eating the "Karma Kandy Orange Ginger" that he was crawling through a bedroom window and cutting his legs on broken glass.
He also testified that Kristine Kirk was covered by a $340,000 life insurance policy and that the couple's marital and financial problems were escalating.
The April 14 shooting stoked concerns about the effects of the largely unmonitored marijuana snacks, which have become increasingly popular since the state legalized recreational pot shops this year. Regulators are still considering new controls on edible pot.
Bisgard testified that Kristine Kirk told dispatchers her husband was acting more drunk than violent, and dispatchers could hear her screaming at him not to retrieve a gun before a shot was fired and the line went silent.
Police could be heard knocking on the door several minutes later.
Kristine Kirk told her closest friends in the days before she died that she and her husband were fighting intensely, and she had grown afraid of him, Bisgard testified.
Their struggles involved more than $40,000 in debt and $2,500 they owed to the Internal Revenue Service, he said.
He told the judge that Kirk stood to gain from his wife's $340,000 life insurance policy.
Kirk's defense attorney Shanelle Kindel noted that the package of "Karma Kandy" bore no information about suggested dosages. And though Bisgard said Kirk's THC levels were relatively low, Kindel said the effects of marijuana edibles can be felt in small amounts.
A clerk at the pot shop told police it didn't seem that Kirk had much experience with marijuana when he came into the shop, Bisgard said.
Bisgard described the 911 call in which Kristine Kirk became increasingly panicked and frantic, begging dispatchers to hurry and send officers because she worried that her husband would harm their three children.
During that time, she told dispatchers Richard Kirk was intermittently laying on their son's bedroom floor and telling her to grab the gun from the safe and shoot him.
Dispatchers heard screaming, a gunshot and then silence.
After the shooting, Richard Kirk told his 7-year-old son to kill him so, "'Dad and Mom can be together with God,'" Bisgard said.