Bryn Spejcher, 32, was sentenced to two years of probation on Tuesday and must carry out 100 hours of community service that focuses on raising awareness of the effects of marijuana-induced psychosis, according to the Ventura County Star.
During the Tuesday sentencing, Spejcher and her loved ones reportedly sobbed in relief while the family members of the victim, Chad O’Melia, were left in shock and anger.
“He just gave everyone in the state of California who smokes marijuana a licence to kill someone,” the victim’s father, Sean O’Melia, said of the judge after the verdict, according to the outlet.
Spejcher was convicted in December of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of 26-year-old Mr O’Melia in 2018, whom she had only been dating for several weeks before his death.
The judge gave her probation and a suspended four-year prison sentence, which she could still face if she violates her probation.
The Ventura County Superior Court judge, David Worley, said that his decision was based on Spejcher having a psychotic episode, according to experts, by taking bong hits of marijuana, the Ventura County Star said.
“From that point forward, she had no control over her actions,” Mr Worley said.
The pair were taking hits from a bong together at Mr O’Melia’s Thousand Oaks apartment on 27 May 2018 when “Spejcher had an adverse reaction to the marijuana and suffered from what experts call cannabis-induced psychotic disorder,” according to a press release from the Ventura County district attorney from December.
During the psychotic episode, she proceeded to stab O’Melia multiple times and also stabbed herself, the release said.
In the early hours of 28 May 2018, law enforcement arrived at the house to find Mr O’Melia covered in a pool of blood and the suspect screaming in hysterics, holding a knife, which she then plunged into her own neck, prompting officers to use a Taser and a baton to disarm her.
A long serrated bread knife was removed from her hands, and the victim was pronounced dead by paramedics, the release said.
Spejcher’s lawyers reportedly tried to claim she was “involuntarily intoxicated” after pressure from Mr O’Melia, but the jurors rejected the defence’s argument, the local outlet wrote.
During the sentencing, Spejcher addressed Mr O’Melia’s family. “My actions have ripped your family apart,” she said, according to the Ventura County Star. “I am broken and aching inside. I hurt that you never see Chad again.”
The local outlet reported that the day before the hearing, loved ones of O’Melia came together in front of the county government centre carrying signs such as “108 Stab Wounds Is A Serious Crime” and “Judge Worley, Do The Right Thing.”
While Mr O’Melia’s family and friends were reportedly hoping for prison time in the sentence, Spejcher’s attorney, Michael Goldstein, believed the judge’s sentence was fair.
“Today, Ventura Superior Court judge did the right thing and imposed a sentence that was fair and accurately reflected,” Mr Goldstein said, reports the Los Angeles Times.
“It was clear that she had no control of her faculties and never intended to cause any harm. All of the medical experts agreed, including the expert called by the district attorney’s office.”