DENVER – A man who claimed to have been high on marijuana edibles when he killed his wife in 2014 pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder charges.
Richard Kirk, 50, had faced first-degree murder charges in the death of his wife, Kristine Kirk, but accepted lesser charges.
He faces between 25 and 30 years in prison, a fine of between $5,000 and $1 million, and will have to serve a mandatory five-year parole after his release under the plea agreement terms.
Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he would have faced life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Kirk also agreed to give up custodial rights of his three children to Kristine’s parents, who agreed to adopt the three minors.
Kristine’s family issued a statement after the hearing saying they were happy the case was resolved.
“We miss Kris every day. We are grateful that this case has been resolved to save us all from the stress of a trial,” the statement said. “Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this, the most difficult time of our lives.”
Kristine had called 911 on April 14, 2014 to report that Richard was hallucinating and she was worried about her and her children’s safety.
Her murder at the hands of her husband played out while she was still on the phone with 911 operators.
Richard had claimed he had bought marijuana-infused candy and smoked a joint before the killing, but court documents also showed the couple had financial troubles and that Kristine and her husband’s relationship had become strained.
Authorities confirmed he had THC in his system after the murder, but it can stay in a person’s system for up to three months after it is ingested, so it is unclear if marijuana had anything to do with the murder.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann also issued a statement on the case following its resolution:
“All involved feel this is a fair resolution of a very complicated, tragic case. The family did not want the case to go to trial given the personal and emotional toll family members have already suffered. Mr. Kirk has accepted responsibility for the murder of his wife and the range of sentence possibilities will allow the judge and the public to hear any facts in mitigation and aggravation of the situation.”
Kirk’s sentencing date has yet to be set.