CA Judge Gives Woman No Jail Time After Killing Boyfriend

( – A California court convicted a woman of stabbing her boyfriend over 100 times, killing him, but she was not sent to prison due to the violent outburst being attributed to “cannabis-induced psychosis.” Bryn Spejcher stabbed her boyfriend, Chad O’Melia, 108 times using a kitchen knife in May 2018. When police arrived she was screaming hysterically and stabbing herself. Spejcher had also killed her dog during the fit.

The 32-year-old audiologist had never tried marijuana before, according to her lawyer. Spejcher reportedly felt “pressured” by her 26-year-old boyfriend.

Prosecutors in Ventura County had initially booked Spejcher on charges of second-degree murder but reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter after experts concluded there was a reasonable possibility that Spejcher’s story was true. The charge still carried penalties of up to four years behind bars, but Judge David Worley decided that she didn’t need to go to jail.

Prosecutors and relatives of the victim were surprised by the sentencing. Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Audry Nafziger, the lead attorney on the case, called the decision “a terrible miscarriage of justice,” and suggested that other judges in the future avoid such lenient sentencing. Nafziger suggested the result was “unheard of” for an involuntary manslaughter conviction.

She agreed that she believed the phenomenon of drug-induced psychosis was a real possibility in the case, but felt that even so, jail time was appropriate.

Father of the victim Sean O’Melia said he was concerned that future murderers will try to escape punishment by blaming marijuana. He suggested Worley set a terrible new precedent “where it’s okay to kill” if you’ve smoked marijuana beforehand.

Nafzinger suggested more defense attorneys will attempt to use the defense in future murder trials. She highlighted that the case had an unusual amount of evidence to back up the claim of psychosis, including police body camera footage showing Spejcher interacting with hallucinations and claims that she was already dead.

When police found her she was attempting to saw-off her own neck with the knife and tasered her multiple times with little effect. They had to break her hand in several places to get her to release the blade. She also failed to respond to officers and acted as if they weren’t there. Marijuana was the only drug found in her system. Nafzinger said few circumstances will be able to rise to this level of evidence.

O’Melia’s mother was said to have died of sadness while waiting for the trial, according to a family friend who protested the sentence in the rain. Spejcher pleaded for forgiveness with the court and said she didn’t know that the reaction she had to marijuana was possible.

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