Richard Kirk, the man accused of shooting and killing his wife in their Observatory Park home last year, changed his plea Friday to not guilty by reason of insanity.
The 49-year-old in March had entered a plea of not guilty but amended the claim during a Friday court appearance. Kirk is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, 44-year-old Kristine Kirk, on April 14, 2014.
As a result of the plea, a two-week trial scheduled to begin Oct. 26 has been vacated. The court ordered Kirk transferred to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo for a sanity evaluation, records show.
He is being held without bond.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office confirmed Friday the plea change stemmed from a new report from a defense witness — a psychiatrist — who contended Kirk might have been legally insane when he killed his wife.
Prosecutors expect Kirk’s sanity evaluation to be completed ahead of his next scheduled court appearance on Dec. 17.
Kristine Kirk called 911 and reported that her husband was ranting, asking her to shoot him and “totally hallucinating.” More than 12 minutes after she called 911, what sounded like a gunshot was heard, followed by silence.
The couple’s three young sons were home at the time of the shooting.
Richard Kirk nibbled on a marijuana candy before the shooting. Investigators later found a partially eaten marijuana candy and an untouched joint in the home.
During a preliminary hearing in August 2014, investigators said a blood test on Richard Kirk administered after the shooting revealed a low level of THC — marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient — but no alcohol or other drugs were detected in his system.
Defense attorneys have argued that on the night of the shooting, Kirk did not have the mental capacity to plan or intentionally kill his wife.
But prosecutors claim Kirk acted deliberately, and despite his erratic behavior before and after the shooting, Kirk was able to remember the combination to the gun safe, grab his gun and fire it.
Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JesseAPaul