VENTURA, CA – An expert witness in the trial of Bryn Spejcher, a 32-year-old woman from California, has posited cannabis-induced psychosis as the cause of a fatal incident in which Spejcher stabbed her boyfriend 100 times. She was also reported to have stabbed her dog and herself during the violent episode in May 2018, which took place at her boyfriend’s apartment in Thousand Oaks.
Spejcher, originally from Chicago, had reportedly used cannabis only a handful of times, between five and ten occasions according to court testimonies. The fatal incident occurred just after she had taken two pulls from a bong belonging to her boyfriend, Chad O’Melia. Not long after her inhalation, Spejcher started to feel unwell and began to hear voices in her head.
In her confused state, Spejcher attacked O’Melia with three kitchen knives. She left him with fatal wounds on his heart, lungs, and major arteries in his neck. Afterward, she turned on her dog and wounded herself multiple times with an eight-inch bread knife.
Originally charged with second-degree murder, the prosecutor has proposed reducing her charge to involuntary manslaughter. The suggested lesser charge comes after a forensic psychiatrist’s testimony linked Spejcher’s vicious crimes to a cannabis-induced psychosis episode. The potential reduction could lower Spejcher’s custodial sentence from 25 years to just four.
Spejcher has been portrayed by her defense as a person of “good character” who, despite her almost becoming deaf at a young age, has appeared to take pleasure in helping others combat hearing loss.
Cannabis use, especially high-strength THC, has known links to severe mental health issues, including psychosis and schizophrenia. While these risks are generally more pronounced with regular prolonged use, newer strains with higher THC content might trigger mental ill-health even in relatively inexperienced users.
The continued investigation will attempt to uncover the potency of the drug taken by both O’Melia and Spejcher.