Darrin Hirsh’s ex-wife Candice testified Wednesday that her husband held his Kansas Highway Patrol service pistol to her head and a pillow over her face the night of March 12, 2013, after a heated argument.
Darrin Hirsh is on trial for charges that include aggravated assault and domestic battery, as well as criminal threat, intimidating a witness and violating a protective order of the court. The charges stem from events that occurred that night in the Hirshes home at Bissell’s Point, and almost a year later, when the incident was reported.
Candice Hirsh was the second witness called Wednesday in Barton County District Court. Assistant Attorney General Jessica Domme first called Dorthy Stucky Halley, director of the Victims Services Division, Office of the Kansas Attorney General. The defense has objected to her testimony, which District Judge Ron Svaty has allowed. Stucky Halley spoke at length about issues of domestic violence, including why victims don’t leave after they are battered.
Candice Hirsh spoke softy, sometimes pausing for 10 seconds or longer before answering questions. The couple had three children during their 17 years of marriage, which ended in 2014.
In 2011, she said, a 21-year-old woman who wanted to become a Highway Patrol Trooper like Darrin started consuming most of his time. The woman, Ashley Martell, is expected to testify later in the trial.
Candice Hirsh described the night she told her husband she’d had enough.
“I told him he needed to get his stuff and get his girlfriend out of the house and never come back,” she testified. In response, she said her husband became “enraged, charging at me, yelling me, pushing me.”
Domme asked her to describe the altercation.
“I don’t want to go there,” she said. “I know I was pushed. I know I was on the ground. I know he dragged me by my hair through the dining room. I know he had picked me up and threw me in the living room – I had rug burns on my arms from the carpet. He choked me against the wall.”
Asked to explain, she added, “He had me pinned against the wall with his hand around my neck.” She said she couldn’t breathe.
Then Darrin began pacing and packing a bag.
“He was completely enraged like I’d never seen him,” she testified. “He said, ‘I could just kill you for making my boys see me have to do this.’ He kept repeating that.”
Later, Candice testified, Darrin Hirsh approached her again.
“What do you remember?” Domme asked.
“Him coming in through the doorway. This is the area I have a hard time going back to.”
“He was calm. ... His hands were behind his back.”
She said she did see Hirsh’s Glock handgun, and felt the barrel against her skull at some point.
She said Darrin Hirsh straddled her on the bed; her back was on the bed crossways and she could not get up.
“He had put a pillow over my face. He put the gun next to my head and put the pillow over my face. He pushed it down where I couldn’t breathe.”
“What did you do?”
“At that point, I honestly thought he was joking,” she said. But, “I kept trying to come up, he kept pushing me with the pillow. I started hyperventilating and I kept asking for a glass of water. ... I kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to fight,’ and I realized the position I was in I couldn’t. I remember trying to get the pillow off of my face.”
“Did you decide he wasn’t joking?” Domme asked. Hirsh said her mind went to acceptance.
Asked to explain, she hesitated.
“I don’t have to say it, do I?”
“Candice, what were you accepting?”
“I was going to die. ... He told me it would all be over real soon.”
Domme told the jury during her opening statement that testimony will show Candice told a friend, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Dave Jacobs, what had happened. But nothing came of it.
“The thing was,” Domme said, “Darrin was law enforcement. He was part of that brotherhood.”
And so, Darrin Hirsh moved back in, living in the basement for almost another year.
Then in 2014 Candice told someone who listened to her story. Talaya Schwartz, her supervisor at her place of work, The Center for Counseling and Consultation, heard the story and contacted law enforcement on March 10, 2014. Darrin Hirsh filed for divorce that day.
Domme said witnesses will testify that Darrin Hirsh asked Candice to deny everything – “tell them it didn’t happen.” And she did. “But there was more evidence,” Domme said.
“This wasn’t reported for almost a year because Kansas Highway Patrol said, ‘keep your mouth shut,’” Domme concluded.
Darrin Hirsh’s defense attorney, Sal Intagliata, also made opening statements Wednesday.
He told the jury the state will not be able to prove its allegations.
“The evidence is going to show that Candice Hirsh was scared – forced to make statements about Darrin Hirsh that are not true,” he said.
It happened after Schwartz called Candice in about her poor job performance, he said.
“Candice Hirsh was upset by a pending divorce, troubles at work and a perceived affair,” he said.
The trial will continue Thursday.