Members of the jury in the trial of Darrin Hirsh went home Monday evening without reaching a verdict. They left around 5:40 p.m. after two and a half hours of deliberations and are expected to resume Tuesday morning around 8:30 a.m.
Hirsh is charged in Barton County District Court with threatening his wife Candice with a handgun on March 12, 2013, vertbally threatening the life of her and their children. He is also charged with violating a protective order on March 12, 2014. District Judge Ron Svaty read all of the charges to the jurors Monday afternoon, along with instructions on how to proceed. The names of two alternate jurors were drawn, leaving nine men and three women on the jury.
If jurors find Hirsh not guilty of aggravated assault, they are to consider the lesser charge of simple assault. If he is found guilty of any charges of assault or criminal threat, the jury must also determine if these were instances of domestic violence.
The trial started last week and the jury went home Friday evening following the testimony and cross examination of defense witness Steve Billinger, who was Hirsh’s supervisor on the Kansas Highway Patrol in 2013 and 2014.
When the trial resumed Monday morning, defense attorney Sal Intagliata said he had no further witnesses and the defense rested. Assistant Attorney General Jessica Domme called no rebuttal witnesses, and the rest of the morning was spent preparing the jury’s instructions. In the afternoon, the prosecution and defense each had 50 minutes for closing statements.
Jurors must decide the weight and credibility to assign each piece of admitted evidence.
Domme’s summary began, “On March 12, 2013, Darrin Hirsh put a gun to his wife Candice’s head. He threatened to kill her and he threatened to kill her children.”
Candice also learned a lesson that night, Domme said. “Don’t challenge my husband. She told him, ‘get your stuff, get your girlfriend and get out of the house.’ He’d been carrying on this relationship for two years. How dare she stand up to him? ...
“She lost Candice that night. Her trust was gone. The one person in this world that was not supposed to hurt her, Darrin Hirsh put a gun to her head.”
He allegedly put a pillow over his wife’s face and told her, “Be quiet, it will all be over soon.” The state also alleges that he said, “I will be taking them (the kids) too.”
Domme pointed to consistencies in Candice’s story and the testimony of the people she told in the next 24 hours and a year later.
She said Candice did not make an official report because, “She was afraid of what could happen to her life and her family if anyone found out.” Domme added that Darrin Hirsh repeatedly reminded her, “They’ll never believe you. I work with these people.”
The state alleges Darrin called Candice and said, “Tell them it didn’t happen. My job is on the line.”
Finally, Domme asked the jury, “What was Candice’s motivation? She wasn’t out for anything. She told Stephanie Jacobs she wanted him to get help. Her statements are consistent.”
Intagliata told the jury the state had failed to prove any of its allegations.
Candice Hirsh told three people she was threatened in 2013: Stephanie Jacobs, Dave Jacobs and Talaya Schwartz.
“They do nothing to report,” he said. “They don’t take photographs or preserve evidence or have her go to a doctor.” They also took no steps to protect the children from impending danger, he said. Instead, the Hirshes continued to live together as a family.
Charges came nearly a year later. Darrin Hirsh filed for divorce, was granted joint custody of the three boys, had changed the locks and filed a restraining order against her. Phone records show her calling him, as well as the other way around. “The order allow(ed) for limited contact with respect to the children,” he said.
The only physical evidence in this case is a damaged headboard, supposedly marred on March 12, 2013, when Darrin Hirsh threw her clutch purse at it and broke her compact. Intagliata said the first mention of the purse or compact was when Candice told that to Kansas Bureau of Investigation Agent Joby Harrison on March 24, 2015.
There was also the testimony of two Kansas Highway Patrol officers who said she recanted the story.
“Her response was, ‘This snowballed. It didn’t happen. I was upset when I was forced to go to the Crisis Center. I told them what they wanted to hear.’”
Intagliata told the jury, “Her actions (contradict) her words.” Candice Hirsh moved out of the house on March 10, 2014, leaving the children with Darrin in joint custody – with no apparent fear for their safety.
Candice had a motive for making up the story, he concluded; the threat of “losing her boys was a motive."