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

Justice in the Golden State was a long time coming and ultimately lenient for a woman who stabbed a man she was dating to death with several knives while in a marijuana-induced state of acute psychosis.

Bryn Spejcher, 32, was sentenced by a judge on Tuesday 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.

There was no plea deal struck in the case. And, while, the defendant admitted her factual responsibility for O’Melia’s brutal death — he was stabbed 108 times on the night in question — she pleaded not guilty to the lone charge of involuntary manslaughter before being found guilty late last year. Spejcher faced up to four years in prison, which she could still serve if found to have violated the terms of her probation.

Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Audry Nafziger prosecuted the case and complained about the sentence.

“I think the judge was really hung up on the idea that people smoked marijuana and don’t know that these types of things can happen,” Nafziger said in comments reported by The CW West Coast flagship KTLA.

However, it was the state’s own expert witness who turned the tide in the case by agreeing with the defense about Spejcher’s mental state.

Originally charged with murder in the second degree, prosecutors asked to reduce the charge to manslaughter in September 2023 after a forensic psychologist submitted a report that found the defendant was “acutely psychotic” during the extreme bout of violence. Ventura County Judge David Worley granted the state’s requested reduction.

The state-appointed forensic psychologist, Kris Mohandie, wrote in a 37-page report that Spejcher appeared “possessed” in police body-worn camera footage from the night she killed O’Melia. The state’s expert also wrote that stabbing “her own beloved dog, without any evidence of animal cruelty tendencies, is highly inconsistent with her love of dogs and underscores her level of impairment.”

Then, after stabbing Arya, Spejcher began slashing at her own neck with a serrated bread knife — cutting her jugular vein. Drenched in blood, she continued cutting herself while kneeling over the man bleeding out — despite being shocked over and over by police with a stun gun, footage shown during the trial reportedly showed. The attempt on her life only stopped after the ninth blow from a police officer’s steel baton, body-worn camera footage also revealed.

Mohandie also determined that the high potency of the marijuana the defendant smoked — after multiple successive bong hits — was responsible for her dissociative fugue-like state.

“From that point forward, she had no control over her actions,” Worley said before handing down the sure-to-be controversial sentence, according to a courtroom report by the Ventura County Star.

Family members of the victim exclaimed angrily in court, the paper reported, while the defendant and her own family sobbed in relief.

“He just gave everyone in the state of California who smokes marijuana a license to kill someone,” Sean O’Melia, the victim’s father, reportedly said.

Spejcher, through tears, penitently addressed the victim’s family directly before she was sentenced on Tuesday.

“My actions have ripped your family apart,” she reportedly said. “I am broken and aching inside. I hurt that you never see Chad again.”

During the trial, prosecutors sought to paint Spejcher as a coldhearted woman just looking for the next party, the Star reported. That image, however, did not align with her actual life: supplied by her loved ones during the sentencing hearing. Spejcher was born with a hearing impairment and previously practiced as an audiologist before the violence that upended her life and wholly undid another.

Worley took the defendant’s life before the nightmarish evening into account when meting out the sentence — the terms of which mandate that her community service focus on educating the public about the dangers of cannabis-induced psychosis.

“I wish I had known more about the dangers of marijuana,” Spejcher told the court during her sentencing hearing, according to a courtroom report by the Los Angeles Times. “Had I known, I would never have smoked it that night or at all.”

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 “From that point forward, she had no control over her actions,” the judge said before handing down the sure-to-be controversial sentence.  Read More