By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
A convicted felon and a defendant involved in unrelated high-profile local criminal cases committed suicide within the last month, officials said.
Scott Kirby, 23, of Portales, sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in February for his role in the theft of $600,000 from an armored car service, died March 14 at the Department of Correction’s intake center in Los Lunas.
Using a bed sheet, Kirby hung himself in his cell while being held at the department’s Reception and Diagnostic Center at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility, said Tia Bland, public information officer for the DoC. .Bland said she could not comment on Kirby’s mental state prior to his death, citing medical privilege.
Bryan Storseth, 45, of Clovis died April 3 in Sacramento, Calif., while awaiting trial on felony child abuse charges. Attorney Dan Lindsey said his client hung himself at his mother’s home. Storseth had been allowed by the court to travel to California so he could be with his mother, who has been ill.
An October trial had been scheduled in his case.
Kirby, originally from Elizabethtown, Ky., had been employed as an armored truck driver for Albuquerque-based courier company Respond Inc. He was assigned to pick up money from businesses in Clovis and Portales.
In March 2006, Kirby picked up more than $600,000 in cash and checks, but failed to deposit them.
Two others were also charged in the case. One awaits trial and the other was placed on probation.
Kirby’s sister, Heather Darnell, of Elizabethtown, Ky., said her family had spoken to her brother in the days leading up to his death and heard no signs of suicidal feelings. She said her brother was prepared to serve his time.
“The last letter my mother received from him was saying, ‘This is what God has chosen for me.’ He was looking forward to coming home,” she said.
Family members were notified the day of his death, she said.
“My mom just lost it, so I took the phone from her and talked to them. (They told her) ‘We found your son dead in his cell,’” she said.
Darnell said the family has hired a private investigator to look into the matter.
“We’re not doing too good; we’re sitting here trying to get things sorted out,” she said.
Storseth was accused of restraining his 15-year-old daughter with chains and beating her in June 2006, according to court records. He had been released on bond while awaiting trial, records show.
Chrissy Storseth, 46, of Clovis said because of a no-contact order by the court she had not been able to speak with her husband since July.
“I’ve always said that it was very inappropriate that they didn’t let my husband come home,” she said by phone Saturday.
“There’s just so much leading up to all of this. There’s a lot of heartache because of the way that my husband was treated. It’s very shocking because we still don’t believe my husband took his life. My husband never would have done that. It’s very hard to accept,” she said.
Chrissy Storseth, the child’s stepmother, is charged with felony abandonment or abuse of a child in connection with the allegations. She will stand trial in October, records show. She was released on a $5,000 bond in July, records show.
Bryan Storseth’s daughter was placed in foster care, Lindsey said.
Lindsey described his client as a family-oriented man with no prior history of violence who became depressed because the court order prevented him from having contact with his family before trial. He said the death is a tragedy.
“He was absolutely innocent (and) we had the evidence to produce,” Lindsey said. “He just couldn’t see his family — he just got really depressed.”