Keenu Tiyme verdict: 1st-degree murder in slaying of wife/body artist Kauri Tiyme

It took Keenu Tiyme five agonizing days to end the life of his ex-wife Kauri, as one exit plan after another -- pills, suffocation, strangulation, wrist-cutting, even attempts to buy a gun or jump off the bridge spanning the Royal Gorge -- failed miserably.

It took a Denver jury just two days to find him guilty of first-degree murder in the bizarre case, which Tiyme described as a suicide pact gone wrong.

The verdict came in late Monday afternoon. The slaying had shocked friends and fans of Kauri, a 39-year-old tattoo artist known for her vibrant custom art and striking appearance, the result of her own pursuit of edgy body modification, from transdermal implants to Medusa-like dreadlocks.

Kauri Tiyme
Kauri Tiyme
Cora Reed

Keenu had worked as a piercer at the couple's shop in Breckenridge. But a few months before her death, Kauri filed for divorce and moved to Denver. Keenu also moved to the city but found marginal employment. In October 2008, her battered and slashed body was found in Denver hotel room; Keenu was arrested a few days later after a police chase in New Mexico.

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Notes and pills scattered in the room indicated that the pair had spent several days trying to end their lives. Keenu told police he ultimately bashed his ex-wife in the head with a liquor bottle and slashed her throat, but failed to end his own life despite consuming rat poison.

Keenu pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. At trial, his attorneys argued that he was too depressed to distinguish right from wrong and that he perceived his actions as a "mercy killing," driven by compassion for his suicidal wife rather than malice. But prosecutor Maggie Conboy urged jurors to reject that rationale.

"Lots of people have major depression," Conboy noted in her closing argument. "It doesn't mean they get a free pass for committing a vicious murder."

Tiyme didn't get a pass. A verdict of first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole. His sentencing is scheduled for June 30.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Trevor Morris & Ashley Bradford waive prelim in medical marijuana center machete robbery."


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