Defendant to Take Witness Stand as Trial Resumes Nov. 27 After Cannabis-Induced Psychosis Defense Eyed

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The manslaughter trial of Bryn Spejcher, who stabbed her boyfriend to death in 2018, resumed on Nov. 27, with the defendant planning to take the witness stand. The trial is expected to wrap up before the end of the month, following a weeklong Thanksgiving break.

Multiple experts testified last week that Spejcher was suffering from cannabis-induced psychosis at the time of the stabbing, leading to her charge being reduced from murder to involuntary manslaughter. Psychologist Kris Mohandie, hired by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, concluded that Spejcher’s use of cannabis triggered a psychotic episode that led to the killing.

Dr. William Wirshing, a psychiatrist and USC medical professor, also examined Spejcher for the defense and is “essentially 100% confident” in his diagnosis of cannabis-induced psychosis.

Both experts explained that psychosis is not the same as extreme intoxication, and people in a psychotic state do not realize their hallucinations and delusions are because of the drug. The experts highlighted that it is a well-recognized phenomenon in the medical field and is listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Lawyers for Spejcher argue that she was “involuntary intoxicated” due to a psychotic episode triggered by marijuana use, and that she did not foresee the outcome. Prosecutors do not have to prove intent in an involuntary manslaughter charge, only that she acted negligently and caused the death.

The trial will resume on Nov. 27, and Spejcher is expected to take the stand in her own defense. If convicted, she could face up to four years in state prison, with the potential for additional time due to special allegations of using a deadly weapon and committing “great violence.”