On Friday, January 26, 2024, KHTS reported on allegations of bias against Ventura County Judge David Worley in a murder sentencing.
In May 2018, Bryn Spejcher killed Chad O’Melia by stabbing him over 100 times in his own home while experiencing a psychotic episode brought on by marijuana use. Spejcher was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter in December 2023.
However, during the January sentencing, the victim’s father Sean O’Melia and prosecutors expressed frustration over Judge Worley’s decision. Despite recommendations for a four-year prison term, Worley instead sentenced Spejcher to only two years probation and 100 hours of community service.
Prosecutors argued the light sentence sends the wrong message. Senior Deputy DA Audry Nafziger said that vehicular manslaughter under the influence would have resulted in prison time. O’Melia also publicly accused Worley of bias during the hearing, stating the judge had shown prejudice against the prosecution, victim, and victim’s family.
Both O’Melia and prosecutors said they were surprised by the lenient sentence based on Worley’s conduct throughout the case. If the bias allegations are valid, it could suggest the decision was not made impartially based solely on the facts.
For now, O’Melia says the family can only seek civil damages but worries Spejcher’s sentence could set a troubling precedent for similar future cases. Prosecutors also expressed concern the outcome may embolden other offenders.