In this April 15, 2014 photo, authorities investigate a homicide in Denver. Richard Kirk is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of his wife in their Denver home. Police are investigating whether marijuana played a role in the killing. Police officers arrived just after Kristine Kirk was shot in the head Monday, April 14, 2014, about 15 minutes after she called 911. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file)

Richard Kirk sentenced to 30 years in 2014 slaying of his wife in Denver

Kirk shot his wife, Kristine Kirk, in 2014, as she pleaded on the phone with a Denver 911 operator to send help

Richard Kirk, the man who claimed eating marijuana candy led him to kill his wife, was sentenced on Friday to 30 years in prison.

Kirk appeared before Judge Martin Egelhoff after pleading guilty in February to second-degree murder. As part of the plea agreement, Kirk agreed to relinquish custody of his three sons to his wife’s parents, Marti and Wayne Kohnke. He also will serve five years of parole after his prison release.

Richard Kirk
Richard Kirk (Denver Police Department)

Kirk shot his wife on April 14, 2014, as she was on the phone with a Denver 911 operator pleading for help. The phone call lasted 13 minutes as Kristine Kirk told an operator her husband was hallucinating, ranting about the end of the world and asking her to kill him.

Kristine Kirk was killed just seconds before Denver police officers arrived. The couple’s three sons were at home. The oldest two ran to the patrol car for help, and the youngest, then 7 years old, was found in a bedroom near where his mother was lying dead from a gunshot wound.

Kirk had bought marijuana-infused candy, and police found a partially eaten “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” chew in the family’s Observatory Park home.

Kristine Kirk (photo provided by the family)
Kristine Kirk (photo provided by the family)

Kirk’s defense team attempted to blame THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, for his erratic behavior. But a toxicology report from one of Kirk’s blood tests the night of the shooting showed he had just 2.3 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. The state’s legal limit for stoned driving is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter.

Kirk’s three sons have a wrongful-death lawsuit pending against the recreational marijuana industry. The lawsuit claimed that the company that made the orange ginger candy and the store that sold it failed to warn Kirk of its potency and possible side effects of hallucinations and other psychotic behaviors.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com