A grow light shines through cannabis leaves at Northern Lights' Denver grow facility in March 2014. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Months after insanity plea, no evaluation for Kirk in wife’s murder

Six months after a judge ordered Richard Kirk to undergo a crucial mental health exam, he has still not been transported to the state hospital for an evaluation.

Kirk faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, 44-year-old Kristine Kirk. Richard Kirk, now 49, allegedly nibbled part of a marijuana candy before he shot and killed his wife in their Observatory Park home on April 14, 2014.

Five weeks before his trial was set to begin in 2015, Kirk changed his plea from not guilty, to not guilty by reason of insanity. Denver District Court Judge Martin Egelhoff ordered a mental health professional to evaluate Kirk at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo and complete a report.

Months after insanity plea, no evaluation for Kirk in wife's murder
Richard Kirk (Denver Police)

That evaluator must determine whether Kirk had the mental capacity to to distinguish right from wrong on the night of the shooting.

For the second time on Thursday, Kirk’s case was put on hold because he has not been transported to the state hospital for an evaluation. The matter was previously postponed during a hearing on Dec. 17.

Egelhoff ruled the report must be finished and delivered to the court on or before a hearing scheduled for July 7. A hearing was also scheduled for April 28 to ensure Kirk has been transported to the hospital.

“This has taken a really long time,” Egelhoff said. “At some point in time they (the state hospital) are going to have to comply with the court’s order.”

Kristine Kirk called 911 and pleaded for help as she told the operator her husband was ranting about the end of the world, asking her to shoot him and “totally hallucinating.” More than 12 minutes after she called police, what sounded like a gunshot was heard, followed by silence.

The couple’s three young sons were home at the time.

A partially eaten marijuana candy Richard Kirk nibbled on, and an untouched joint were found inside the home.

During a preliminary hearing, attorneys said blood tests revealed Kirk had a low level of THC — marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient — in his system. No alcohol or other drugs were detected.

Kirk’s attorneys appear to be poised to argue cannabis intoxication played a key role in the shooting, according to motions filed in the case.

On Sept. 1, Kirk’s attorneys filed a motion disclosing they may argue Kirk’s actions were the result of intoxication or involuntary intoxication. They also submitted three reports from experts they hired to evaluate the case.

The reports — when considered together — suggest the THC in Kirk’s system may have contributed to or triggered a psychotic break.

Prosecutors have rejected defense arguments that Kirk was not acting intentionally. They claim the financial and emotional strain of his marriage contributed to a conscious decision to kill his wife.

Jordan Steffen: 303-954-1794, jsteffen@denverpost.com or @jsteffendp

This story was first published on DenverPost.com