Police: Man bought pot candy hours before shooting wife while she called 911

Posted at 8:06 PM, Apr 17, 2014
By Catherine E. Shoichet, Michael Martinez and Carma Hassan


(CNN) — A man accused of killing his wife while she frantically spoke to a 911 operator bought marijuana candy just hours before the deadly shooting, police said Thursday.

Now Richard Kirk, 47, faces a first-degree murder charge. And authorities are facing questions about why it took them so long to reach the family’s Denver home.

For nearly 13 minutes, Kristine Kirk told 911 she feared for herself and their three scared children. She screamed when her husband went to the family safe and grabbed a gun.

The 911 operator heard what sounded like a gunshot.

Then “the screaming stopped,” Denver Police Detective Mark Crider wrote in a search warrant affidavit. And Kristine Kirk, the detective wrote, was “never heard from again.”

When they arrived at her house, investigators found her dead on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

Receipts and security camera footage showed Richard Kirk had purchased a candy called “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” at a marijuana store in southeast Denver at 6:40 p.m. that night, the affidavit says. Investigators said they’ll examine a blood sample to determine whether Kirk was under the influence of any substances at the time of the shooting.

During her 911 call made just after 9:30 p.m., according to the affidavit, Kristine Kirk said her husband “had taken some marijuana and possibly some prescription medication for back pain.”

“Please hurry,” she told the dispatcher, adding that her husband was “totally hallucinating” and scaring their kids, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says Kristine Kirk sounded “panicked” but does not specify at what point in the 911 call her tone changed.

After authorities arrested Richard Kirk, the affidavit says, he started “rambling to himself” and told an officer “that he was the strongest in the Church of Latter Day Saints and he had killed his wife.” At the time, police believed he was under the influence of a controlled substance or prescription medication “based upon his speech patterns, his inability to focus and his pupils,” the affidavit says.

FOX 13 News sister station FOX 31 in Denver reports a court document indicates the man told police he had shot his wife.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana, allowing pot stores to open for business on January 1.

At a court hearing Wednesday, Richard Kirk was ordered held without bail on an accusation of first-degree murder.

In response to questions about the incident, Denver Police Chief Robert White told reporters Thursday he had opened an internal review of why it took officers more than 12 minutes to respond, CNN affiliate KUSA reported.

“We want to know how long it took our officers from the time they were dispatched to get to that particular call,” he said.

Investigators will look at the time it took operators, dispatchers and police officers to handle the call, he said.

“We are going to look at all nuances in this situation. What, if anything, went wrong from our perspective? What we can do to mitigate instances like that in the future?” White said, according to KUSA.

A dispatcher has been placed on leave pending the investigation into the incident, the CNN affiliate reported, citing police officials.

The city of Denver auditor’s office this year began studying police response times, which have grown longer in recent years, the Denver Post reported. The report is expected in June, and police have cited fewer officers and limited budgets for hiring more officers since 2008 as causes for longer response times, the newspaper reported.

Kirk admitted that he killed his wife — “without questioning,” another police document says — when an officer put him in the backseat of a patrol car, the probable cause document says.

Lance Kirk, brother of Richard Kirk, told CNN affiliate KWGN that he was stunned to hear of the incident.

“I know that wasn’t Richard — let’s just say that,” Lance Kirk told the news outlet. “I hope there are some answers that come out about this.”

CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet, Mariano Castillo, Stefan Simons, Kara Devlin and Dottie Evans contributed to this report.

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