Man accused of killing his father takes plea deal

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PROVO -- A man who stabbed his own father several times on Father's Day pleaded guilty to the murder Thursday. Michael Kirsch had a drug problem and suffered from schizophrenia, and his parents were trying to help him when the crime occurred.

In court Thursday, the case was resolved in a plea deal, which eliminates the threat of the death penalty and gives Kirsch a chance at someday being free.

"We're grateful that Michael's mother and the county attorney were willing to take the death penalty off the table and they were compassionate to let him have the possibility of being paroled someday," said defense attorney Richard Gale.

It was on Father's Day last year when 32-year-old Kirsch got into an argument with his parents. He stabbed his father 31 times in their home in Orem. His mother also suffered less serious injuries as she tried to stop her son.

Kirsch was arrested and charged with aggravated murder. He spent several months in the state mental hospital after questions over his competency were raised. In February, he was declared competent to stand trial, which led his attorneys to work out today's plea deal.

"I think they understand if Mike didn't suffer from this mental illness, he would be a different person; and so he wouldn't have done this had it not been for the mental illness. And now that he is more stabilized on his medication, he feels a lot of remorse for what happened, and he wanted to take responsibility for his actions," Gale said.

Michael's father, Christopher Kirsch, taught geography at Utah Valley University and had traveled around the world during his career.

Michael Kirsch faces at least 20 years and the possibility of life in prison when he is formally sentenced in May.


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