05/28/2024

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Bryn Spejcher appears in two photos provided by law enforcement

Woman who smoked potent strain of marijuana causing her to stab man 108 times while ‘acutely psychotic’ appeals conviction that led to probation and community service

Left: Bryn Spejcher appears in her booking photo; Right: a 2023 photo. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office; Ventura County District Attorney’s Office)

A California woman who admittedly stabbed a man she briefly dated to death while in a drug-induced, dissociative fugue-like state is appealing her conviction that resulted in a sentence with no jail time.

Bryn Spejcher, 32, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in December 2023. In January, she was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service for killing Chad O’Melia, 26, at his Thousand Oaks condo in the Conejo Valley, roughly 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, at around 1 a.m. on Memorial Day 2018. That night, she also stabbed her dog, Arya, and tried to take her own life, but she was interrupted by the arrival of law enforcement.

During her trial, Spejcher did not contest that she killed O’Melia, who died from 108 cut and stab wounds inflicted by multiple knives. Rather, both the defense and the state agreed she was “acutely psychotic” during the bout of ultraviolence and therefore lacked several levels of intent or culpability. Although prosecutors originally charged Spejcher with murder in the second degree, they asked a judge to reduce the charge to involuntary manslaughter in September 2023 after their own forensic psychologist reached similar conclusions to defense experts.

Now, Spejcher has nothing to lose in terms of liberty and wants her record cleared of the conviction entirely, her lawyers say.

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    In comments to People magazine, attorneys Michael Goldstein and Robert Schwartz said they recently filed a notice of appeal in Spejcher’s case because they believe the guilty verdict was wrong while “the sentence imposed by Judge Worley was appropriate.”

    The maximum sentence the convicted woman could have received for an involuntary manslaughter conviction was five years in prison.

    Prosecutors pushed for jail time and tried to paint Spejcher as a coldhearted woman just looking for the next party.

    Ventura County Judge David Worley, however, took the measure of the woman before the nightmarish evening into account when meting out the sentence — relying on the actual details of Spejcher’s life which were supplied by her loved ones during the sentencing hearing: she was born with a hearing impairment and was an audiologist before the violence that upended her life and made another gone forever.

    In the end, the judge said “she had no control over her actions.”

    The ruling, perhaps, might have been a foregone conclusion since the major issue contested was whether and how long Spejcher should be behind bars — with the state arguing her decision to smoke marijuana on the night in question suggested a certain level of responsibility.

    In a recent interview with The Daily Mail, Spejcher said she felt pressured to the point of coercion to smoke by O’Melia.

    “I felt intimidated by him,” she told the paper. “If something felt personal to him, even if it really wasn’t, he’d have this short fuse.”

    Spejcher also said O’Melia repeatedly insist that she smoke the weed he prepared “really fast” and said “go, go, go” while she inhaled.

    “Yes, I physically inhaled it,” she went on. “So, we’re both accountable. But there’s obviously been more attention to my part.”

    During a September 2023 pretrial hearing, Worley said the medical experts for each side returned findings “so definitively and so similarly in their evaluations” which entirely changed “the landscape of the evidence,” according to documents obtained by People magazine.

    The sentence was controversial among O’Melia’s family.

    “He just gave everyone in the state of California who smokes marijuana a license to kill someone,” Sean O’Melia, the victim’s father, said, according to a courtroom report by the Ventura County Star.

    The line prosecutor who failed to make the state’s case has used racial and age-related arguments to criticize the judge.

    “When you smoke weed and you’re a white, young, privileged … upper-middle-class woman who bamboozles an old, white male judge, and you get to walk, I don’t know how to reconcile that for all the other criminals and victims in the country,” Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Sr. Deputy District Audry Nafziger, who is also white, told NBC News after the sentencing earlier this year.

    When the verdict was read, O’Melia’s loved ones exclaimed loudly with anger; Spejcher and her loved ones sobbed with relief.

    Sean O’Melia remembered his son fondly in comments to People magazine.

    “My son was a good, kind human being,” the grieving father said. “I’m amazed how many lives he touched in his short 26 years.”

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    The post Woman who smoked potent strain of marijuana causing her to stab man 108 times while ‘acutely psychotic’ appeals conviction that led to probation and community service first appeared on Law & Crime.