Woman Who Avoided Prison After Stabbing Lover 108 Times Is Appealing. Now His Dad is Speaking Out (Exclusive)

“Not only did my son not get any justice, but our family did not get any justice here either,” the deceased’s father tells PEOPLE

<p>JUAN CARLO/THE STAR / USA TODAY NETWORK</p> Bryn Spejcher at the Ventura County Government Center, Hall of Justice in California, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.


Bryn Spejcher at the Ventura County Government Center, Hall of Justice in California, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.
  • Chad O’Melia was brutally attacked by a woman he had just started seeing in May 2018

  • The couple had been smoking marijuana before the attack, leading prosecutors to ultimately charge Bryn Spejcher with involuntary manslaughter, in what they described as a marijuana-fueled “psychotic episode” 

  • Spejcher faced up to five years behind bars, but in January the judge sentenced her to 2 years of probation and 100 hours of community service

First, Bryn Spejcher stabbed the man she was intimately involved with 108 times.

Then, after a California jury convicted her of killing the 26-year-old, a judge sentenced her to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service in January.

Now, the woman says she should not be held accountable for her lover’s death at all and has filed a notice of appeal, her lawyers confirm to PEOPLE.

In December 2023, Spejcher was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the May 2018 stabbing of Chad O’Melia.

“She killed somebody and she is serving no prison time for that — and even that’s not good enough for her,” Chad’s father, Sean O'Melia tells PEOPLE in an interview.

<p>Sean O'Melia</p> Chad O'Melia

Sean O'Melia

Chad O'Melia

Spejcher did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment about her appeal.

Michael Goldstein and Robert Schwartz, who represented Spejcher at trial, tell PEOPLE they filed notice of her appeal because they disagree with the guilty verdict “but believe the sentence imposed by Judge Worley was appropriate.”

Under California law, Spejcher has nothing to lose by appealing, according to her lawyers, who say her sentence could only be lowered on appeal.

Chad, an accountant, and Spejcher, an audiologist, met at a dog park in Ventura County a few weeks before Chad’s death in the spring of 2018, according to his father, who said the couple spent considerable time together in his son’s final weeks.

Spejcher had gone to Chad’s Thousand Oaks, Calif., apartment on May 27, 2018, and, according to prosecutors’ prior press release, the couple took “several hits from a bong loaded with marijuana.”

Prosecutors say Spejcher had “an adverse reaction to the marijuana” suffering from so-called Cannabis-Induced Psychotic Disorder, leading to her lethally stabbing Chad.

<p>Ventura County Sheriff's Department</p> Bryn Spejcher in mugshot, circa May 2018.

Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Bryn Spejcher in mugshot, circa May 2018.

Entering Chad’s apartment in the early morning hours of May 28, police found Chad “in a pool of blood and Spejcher screaming hysterically with a knife still in her hands,” according to prosecutors, who say that before law enforcement could remove the “long-serrated bread knife” from her hands, she repeatedly “plunged the knife into her own neck.”

Using “a taser and several baton blows,” prosecutors say police disarmed Spejcher, whose later mugshot depicts stab marks crisscrossing her neck.

Sean, who attended court regularly, said he felt that the judge favored the young defendant.

“He never saw Bryn Spejcher for who or what she is,” Sean says. “Repeatedly, he made excuses for that woman.”

Prior to trial, prosecutors downgraded the charge from murder to non-voluntary manslaughter, after medical experts on both sides made findings “so definitively and so similarly in their evaluations” Judge David Worley said at a September 2023 pretrial proceeding, per a transcript obtained by PEOPLE, that it changed “the landscape of the evidence in this case.”

Noting the jury's four-hour deliberations heading a guilty verdict and the Ventura County District Attorney's Office's request that she serve the maximum 5-year penalty, Sean says: "The judge took all that and just threw it away."

PEOPLE reached out to Audry Nafziger, who prosecuted the case, along with a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, but did not hear back in time for publication. In a previous interview with NBC, Nafziger said the judge’s ruling “sets a very dangerous precedent,” called it “a slap in the face to the victim’s family,” and said it signaled that: “it’s okay to smoke marijuana and butcher someone with three knives. But it’s not okay.”

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In a previous interview with Rolling Stone, Nafziger added that it was “the most heinous and violent” involuntary manslaughter case she had covered in nearly 30 years as a prosecutor.

In another county, “I think she’d have been tried for murder,” Seans tells PEOPLE. “Because she wouldn’t have just been seen as a harmless White woman, she’d be seen for what she truly is.”

Spejcher took two family members from him, Sean says.

Chad’s mother, Michelle Larribee, died by suicide within years of Chad’s death: “She just couldn’t take it,” Sean says, choking back sobs as he recalls her death “and it drove her into the ground.”

A loyal son and older brother who took great pride in his work – dressing in a three-piece suit for the office – Chad “really would do anything to help anybody,” Sean says, recalling a time that his son had stood up to a set of men harassing an inebriated woman he did not know.

“My son was a good, kind human being,” Sean says, noting that the local church holding 1,200 congregants overflowed out the door at his son’s funeral. “I’m amazed how many lives he touched in his short 26 years.”

Now, with Spejcher on the streets, Sean says he fears for other lives – including Spejcher's.

Referencing what prosecutors previously called her “psychotic episode,” Sean says he worries it could happen again.

“Once you turn that switch on, it can turn on a lot easier next time,” he says. “The last time she did this, she almost killed herself. So yeah, I’m actually afraid for her own person.”

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