Man sentenced to prison for stabbing woman in head

James M. Kluth, 30, pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree, a domestic violence crime.

An Oak Harbor man who stabbed a woman in the head Jan. 4 may have eaten the seeds of a plant that are poisonous and hallucinatory prior to the assault, court documents state.

James M. Kluth, 30, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Thursday to assault in the first degree, a domestic violence crime.

The defense and prosecution offered a joint sentence recommendation of nine years in prison as part of a plea bargain. Judge Carolyn Cliff agreed and imposed the sentence.

An impact statement said the victim is still suffering the impacts of the trauma and has trouble functioning in the home where it happened.

“She has even had panic attacks and can’t bear looking in the mirror just days after without reimagining blood flowing down her head and face,” it states.

Kluth’s defense attorney, Matt Montoya, said in court that his client took a substance that may have affected his behavior.

A forensic competency report states that Kluth reported ingesting datura seeds prior the assault in an attempt to commit suicide.

A study published by the National Institute of Health explains that the seeds of datura, also known as Jimson weed and devil’s trumpet, are sometimes ingested by people seeking their potential hallucinatory or euphoric effects. The plants are related to nightshade, can induce psychosis and are known to cause people to become comatose.

The licensed psychologist who evaluated Kluth diagnosed him with a possible alcohol use disorder and depression. The psychologist opined that Kluth was competent to stand trial.

Montoya indicated that an independent evaluation also found he was legally competent.

The victim, who was one of Kluth’s roommates, told police that Kluth surprised her while she was in the bathroom by loudly knocking on the door. She found him standing outside the bathroom with a non-stick frying pan in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other.

Kluth started hitting her with the frying pan and stabbing her with the knife.

One of the other roommates heard the woman screaming and went downstairs to find her on the floor of the bathroom and Kluth standing over her. The man pulled Kluth out of the bathroom; he later told police that Kluth had a blank look on his face and did not seem to be “completely there,” a police report states.

A doctor in the emergency room told the police that the woman suffered five lacerations to her head.

The doctor said a CT scan showed a triangle metal object embedded in her head that appeared to be the broken-off tip of the knife found at the scene of the assault, the report states.

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