It is an unimaginably gruesome crime: an example of human violence at its most extreme.
In May 2018, Bryn Spejcher of Thousand Oaks, California, picked up a bread knife and stabbed her new boyfriend 108 times — killing him — before turning the blade on her dog.
The 32-year-old, who worked as an audiologist, then proceeded to stab herself — only stopping when police hit her nine times with a baton.
On Friday, Spejcher was convicted of killing her boyfriend — Chad O’Melia, then 26 — and awaits sentencing.
However, testimony from an expert witness called by the prosecution, seen exclusively by DailyMail.com, paints a vastly different picture of the perpetrator than the story would initially suggest.
Forensic psychiatrist and expert witness Dr Kris Mohandie told the jury last month that Spejcher was a ‘normal’ girl with ‘no history of mental illness or violence’ who was committed to ‘doing good’ in the world.
32 year-old Bryn Spejcher was said to be suffering a severe case of cannabis-induced psychosis when she brutally murdered her boyfriend in May 2018
That fateful night her brain was completely overtaken by extreme psychosis — induced by potent marijuana that had been supplied by her boyfriend, he said.
In testimony from Spejcher herself, the healthcare professional said she’d smoked weed only a few times before, and had ‘never been high’.
Her attack was launched because she had ‘lost touch with reality’, as the cannabis had triggered ‘voices in her head’.
Dr Mohandie warned people with ‘no prior history of violence can consume cannabis, even during one session, and then proceed to commit acts of physical violence to themselves and to others’.
Other psychiatrists for the defense said they were ‘100 percent certain’ that the attack had been caused by weed.
NOW: Spejcher openly wept as the jury read its verdict on Friday, finding her guilty after less than four hours of deliberation
Dr Mohandie, who has seen ‘at least half-dozen cases’ like this one, used his position on the stand to warn against widespread legalization of the psychoactive drug.
‘It’s yet another drug that now people think is safe because it’s legal and now more people are trying it — [But] it’s more potent than it’s ever been. And it’s problematic,’ said Dr Mohandie, who has testified in 80 cases before, including several involving marijuana.
‘So people say, “It’s just marijuana,” and they try and make it seem like it’s insignificant and how could that possibly happen.
‘Well, that doesn’t really fit with my professional experience.
‘[Spejcher’s] behavior is well documented, in my opinion, of psychosis.
‘The things she was saying, what she was doing was consistent with psychosis, the psychotic behaviors that she would later explain to investigators and detectives and to me as well.’
Psychiatrist and expert witness for the prosecution, Dr Kris Mohandie, pictured above, told the court he believed Bryn Spejcher had been suffering from a cannabis-induced psychosis
O’Melia and Spejcher initially bonded over their shared love of dogs and had only been seeing each other for several weeks before the attack took place
‘The nature of it, the spontaneous things she was saying…it was consistent with the delusion and the command hallucinations and voices that she claimed she was hearing later on.’
He added that her use of cannabis caused ‘delusions and hallucinations,’ and she’d ‘lost touch with reality.’
Dr Mohandie, who testified for the prosecution, said he fully agreed with the testimony from the defense.
Dr William Wirshing, clinical professor of psychiatry based in Los Angeles and acting for the defense, said he was ‘100 percent’ certain that Spejcher’s attack was due to cannabis-induced psychosis, reports the VC Star.
‘I don’t think I can be 100 percent certain about anything,’ he said, ‘but this is as certain as I can be about anything’.
He added: ‘Most people have the belief that marijuana diminishes violent potential.’
‘When compared to drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, that’s absolutely true.
‘Compared to nothing at all, when compared to the room air, definitely not.’
Spejcher is shown above in her graduation photo. She had become an audiologist and aimed to help others suffering from hearing loss
Spejcher has been described by the defense as being of ‘good character’. She has no previous convictions or record of mental health problems.
Dr Mohandie said psychological tests he carried out on her in January showed she was a ‘very normal’ person.
He said: ‘There was no evidence that she tried to malinger or play up that she was sick or had any problems.
‘There was nothing extraordinary about any of [her results]. She had a normal, what I would call defensive, profile.’
Testimony from the experts tallies with previous reports about Spejcher’s character.
In 2018, her grandmother – psychiatric nurse Patricia Pearce – wrote a letter to the court, detailing her grandaughter’s nature.
‘Bryn is steadfast in morals, honesty, life choices regarding citizenship with the Girl Scouts, church, health, family and friends. She has never been violent or in trouble with the law. She has been gentle and compassionate,’ wrote Pearce in the letter, obtained by The Camarillo Acorn.
She described a picture of a wholesome child raised in a suburb of Chicago who grew up to become an audiologist ‘against all odds.’
At the time of her arrest, Spejcher, who wears a hearing aid, was in her first year with UCLA Health in Thousand Oaks, having moved from the Midwest in 2017.
Talking about her work as an audiologist in California, Spejcher told the court: ‘I loved working there [at the University of California, Los Angeles] and getting to know the patients.
‘It was very easy for me to be sympathetic with them or share my experience with them… to relate to them and make them feel like they’re not alone.’
On the night of the attack in May, 2018, Spejcher had gone to O’Melia’s home — who she had been seeing for a few weeks.
Shortly after inhaling smoke from two hits of O’Melia’s bong – which he used almost daily – she rushed to the bathroom and said she started to hear voices in her head.
Then she went to the kitchen and took three knives from a block before stabbing O’Melia, her service dog and then her own face.
When the police arrived in the early hours, they found Spejcher drenched in blood as she kneeled over O’Melia’s corpse.
She was stabbing herself repeatedly in the neck with officers unable to get her to stop until they hit her with a baton.
After viewing police body-cam footage of the scene when they arrived in 2018, Dr Mohandie rated Spejcher’s psychotic state as a four — the most severe state when someone is harming someone else and/or themselves.
He added: ‘A video of someone acting psychotic is pretty powerful evidence.
‘Some of that stuff would be pretty hard to fake on the fly.
‘You can see and hear her responding to voices. It’s what I would call florid psychosis, meaning it was outwardly manifested and highly salient.’
A psychiatrist’s testimony stated Spejcher was suffering cannabis-induced psychosis, adding that she appeared to be ‘possessed’ in footage taken with police body cameras. The drug is known to cause psychosis, especially if it is used at high strength
Cannabis-induced psychosis is when someone suffers hallucinations or delusions after taking cannabis.
Doctors say the drug can cause an imbalance in hormones in the brain, including the feel-good chemical dopamine, triggering mental illness.
Although the risks are thought to mostly affect regular users who have been exposed to the drug over many years, doctors are increasingly seeing mental illness in infrequent users.
This could be linked to the increasing THC content in cannabis products, which is now several levels above what is naturally in the plants.
To date, 24 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, with Ohio being the latest earlier last month.
Spejcher suffered from severe hearing loss at an early age as a result of surgery and drugs used to treat a lung problem.
Growing up in a Chicago suburb, she often felt ‘isolated, ashamed [and embarrassed]’ by her affliction which she tried to hide from others at school.
Giving testimony in the trial, she said: ‘I just tried to hide my hearing aids and focus on what everyone else was doing in school, which was sports, music, academics.’
While at high school, the young girl decided she wanted to become an audiologist — so she could help others with hearing loss.
Police arrived at Chad O’Melia’s apartment in May 2018 to find him with multiple stab wounds and his girlfriend, Bryn Spejcher, stabbing herself repeatedly
She was accepted to Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, where she spent four years studying to earn a doctorate in audiology — with one of her professors said she was the best graduate they had ever had.
THEN: Bryn Spejcher, pictured above in happier times, was convicted of manslaughter over the killing of her boyfriend Chad O’Melia on Friday.
In August 2017, she then moved to Thousand Oaks and started a job as an audiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Health clinic.
Initially, her first rental did not allow pets — so she had to leave her service dog, a Siberian husky called Arya, at home in llinois.
But in April 2018, she moved to a room where her dog — who would help her by alerting her to the doorbell or an approaching car — could join her.
She met O’Melia shortly afterward, who used to take his German Shepherd Athena to the same dog park.
By comparison, O’Melia was training to be an accountant in the same area.
He was a regular marijuana user, smoking or using a bong most days, with one flatmate who had previously used his weed nearly needing to go to hospital.
Both the defense and prosecution agreed in the case the stabbing was the result of marijuana intoxication.
But the prosecution sought to paint her as a partier who was hoping to get high while the defense argued she was pressured into taking the drug and it was involuntary.
She was back in court Monday to face hearings over four ‘enhancements’ to her verdict — which could see her sentence lengthened.
The hearings will determine charges of use of a deadly weapon and great violence, which will be decided by a judge after she waived her right to a jury trial over the extra charges.
Sentencing typically takes place about 30 days after the conviction, a clerk for Ventura Superior Court — where the hearing is taking place — told DailyMail.com.
Spejcher was convicted of manslaughter on Friday over the death of Chad O’Melia — a sentence which carries up to four years in prison. Spejcher sobbed quietly as the jury read out its verdict in court.
O’Melia’s father, Sean, said after she was convicted that Spejcher ‘viciously and prematurely ended’ his son’s life and refused to call the verdict ‘justice’.
‘I just want my son back, and that’s not going to happen,’ he told reporters outside the courtroom on Friday.
‘Ultimately, there are only people that have taken a loss here. There’s no winning here.
‘At the same time, I think the first impact to me and my family was the loss of our son, and the next thing that occurred was what we had to go through listening to… all the derogatory remarks about somebody that we had just lost.’
The grieving father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Spejcher in 2020, which has been on hold until her criminal proceedings concluded.
Spejcher was initially charged with second-degree murder, but had this later reduced to manslaughter after reports from psychiatrists were received.
Post source: The List