DENVER -- A Denver man who admitted killing his wife after consuming marijuana edibles was sentenced to 30 years behind bars on Friday.
Richard Kirk admitted “unknowingly” killing his wife, Kristine, after consuming the edibles to relieve back pain.
Kristine Kirk called 911 on April 14, 2014 and told dispatchers that her husband was hallucinating and she was worried for her safety and the safety of her three boys, Ethan, Aiden and Andrew.
She was shot and killed before police arrived.
Kirk pleaded guilty in February to Second-Degree Murder, as part of a plea bargain. He also agreed to give up custodial rights.
Kirk had initially been charged with First-Degree Murder, but agreed to the plea bargain so the three boys wouldn’t have to testify.
In court, Kirk said his “heart is completely broken for causing so much heartache and pain.”
“I had no idea how it would affect me,” he said. “I’m so sorry for becoming the monster I was supposed to protect them from.”
While he addressed the court, Kristine’s family stepped outside.
“We really didn’t want hear what he had to say,” said Marti Kohnke, Kristine’s mom. “There was nothing he could say that would relieve or take away our pain and we just didn’t want to hear it.”
They questioned the role marijuana played in Kristine’s death.
“Yes, it may have contributed, but we don’t have an answer,” Marti Kohnke said.
Wayne Kohnke, the victim’s stepfather, said the family is disappointed that there aren’t more regulations on marijuana edibles.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Martin Foster Egelhoff said he was “surprised” by the plea bargain.
He said he accepted the plea agreement because he has great respect for the attorneys on both sides.
Family relieved to cut ties with killer
Following the sentencing hearing, Kristine’s sister, Tammy Heman, read a statement from the family which said in part:
“Today was a very difficult day. There is no justice for such a despicable crime and there was no winner today. For the past three years, our family has been consumed by this tragedy. We are relieved that this chapter is over and we can finally cut ties with the person who committed this crime.”
Heman said the welfare of the boys is their primary concern.
“My parents have adopted the boys and we are family,” she said. “Our new normal is becoming more normal.”
Heman thanked investigators, prosecutors and the victim’s advocate who helped the family.
“Tomorrow is April 8,” she said. “It would be Kris’ 47th birthday tomorrow. As we have since 2014, we will do a balloon release in memory and in celebration of her and we just ask everybody that has been touched by our story to please remember Kris and send a prayer to Heaven.”