In February, Lisa Marie Lesyshen pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of her nine-year-old son Asher -- an act that was followed by a suicide bid that left her paralyzed.
Now, however, she's reversed course, admitting to second-degree murder in an arrangement that netted her a forty-year prison sentence. Continue for more about the tragic events that led to Asher's death and the court drama that followed, including photos, videos and an original document.
As we've reported, Lisa appeared to dote on Asher, a charming, athletic child who was well known in the Steamboat Springs area (the family lived in the nearby community of Stagecoach) despite his tender years.
For instance, she posted numerous videos of the boy, including this one, which features him singing the song "Twinkle, Twinkle."
But in May, her world came crashing down around her after stumbling on an e-mail exchange between her husband, Michael Kirlan, and the woman with whom he was conducting an affair, as he tearfully detailed at a hearing in Denver last November. (Lesyshen was held here because the jail facilities are more wheelchair-friendly than those in Routt County, where the crime was committed.)
Michael Kirlan in court circa November 2013.
At the hearing, Michael confirmed that he'd told Lisa about his infidelity -- an admission that prompted a sprawling argument during which she's said to have struck him numerous times and identified him as "the enemy."
Amid the spat, Michael reportedly agreed not to divorce Lisa immediately, so that she could retain her health insurance -- and the next day seemed to move forward in a fairly normal fashion, with her going to work and the family eating together. But around 3 a.m., Michael, who'd been sleeping in the basement, heard loud noises that turned out to be gunfire.
Lisa had purchased a weapon, borrowed ammunition from a neighbor and shot Asher as he slept -- three times in the chest, once in the head.
Lisa Marie Lesyshen at the hearing.
When Kirlan got upstairs, he told the courtroom, he found a dazed Lesyshen emerging from Asher's bedroom. "I don't know what happened in there," she's quoted as telling him before firing off the shot that paralyzed her -- a statement that would presumably have been key to her insanity defense had she followed that course.
Afterward, according to the original arrest warrant shared here, officers found a note next to Asher's bed addressed to Michael. It read "Remember you are responsible for what has happened here and you are the person that caused it." It was signed, "Lisa & Asher."
When Lesyshen returned to court this past February, the judge in the case allowed her to plead not guilty by reason of insanity -- a move that triggered an examination by a state-appointed psychiatrist tasked with determining her mental state at the time of the shooting. The evaluation was due in late May, but it was superseded by her court appearance yesterday, when her guilty plea was announced. She accepted it while sobbing.
Look below to see a 7News report detailing the November hearing. That's followed by the original arrest warrant and our previous coverage, including more photos and videos.
Update, 6:03 a.m. May 31: More information is emerging about the tragic murder of Routt County's Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, age nine.
According to local law-enforcement reports, Asher's parents, Lisa Marie Lesyshen and Michael Kirlan, were going through a separation at the time Lisa shot Asher multiple times, killing him.
Afterward, she told Michael to come upstairs and kill her.
As we reported in our original coverage, on view below in its entirety, Michael phoned 911 just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday to say that his son was dead and his wife had a gun at their home, in the community of Stagecoach. Deputies soon discovered Asher's body, as well as Lisa's; she'd shot herself but was still alive.
Here's a photo of Asher with Michael -- part of a gallery mainly consisting of images supplied by readers of Steamboat Today, which is doing the heavy lifting on this story:
Asher with his father, Michael Kirlan.
In the wake of the shooting, Steamboat Today revealed that a post had appeared on Michael's Facebook page alluding to an alleged affair. It was subsequently deleted, raising the possibility that someone other than Michael had shared it. However, neither the woman pictured nor a friend of Michael's would comment on the situation, and the sheriff's office declined to discuss the matter in the context of a possible motive for the shooting.
Now, however, more information is emerging, with Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins holding a press conference and his office releasing a police report obtained by Steamboat Today.
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins at a press conference.
The report reveals that Michael and Lisa were in the process of separating, although no divorce papers had been filed.
Also: When Michael called for emergency services, he said Asher had been shot but was still breathing -- he subsequently died of multiple gunshot wounds -- and Lisa was upstairs. A quote from the report: "Lisa Lesyshen was telling him to come and kill her."
Asher had been shot in his bedroom; Michael had moved him to the living room. As for Lisa, deputies and Oak Creek police who responded to the scene found her beside her own bed with a single gunshot wound, although three shell casings were in the vicinity of a nearby revolver.
She was conscious and has reportedly confessed to killing Asher. At the hospital, she also asked for an attorney.
Here are two more photos of Asher, followed by our previous coverage, marked by several videos showing the boy during much happier times.
Asher was an active ski jumper.
He also played soccer.
Original post, 6:47 a.m. May 30: The violent death of Routt County's Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan would be tragic under any circumstances. After all, the active nine year old was shot to death by his mother, Lisa Marie Lesyshen, who then turned the gun on herself; she survived, but her current condition hasn't been released.
For those of us who didn't know Asher, though, the loss is amplified by the handful of videos uploaded by Lisa during much happier times. See them and get more details below.
The four clips in Lisa's YouTube playlist (the one we're excluding shows the images sideways) were first shared four years ago. Here are videos in which Asher displays a precocious talent on violin. The first finds him in an informal setting....
...while another clip spotlights his appearance at a recital:
We don't know if Asher continued to fiddle, but as the years went on, he took part in more athletic activities. In its report about Asher's death, Steamboat Today notes that its photo archives include images of him taking part in ski-jumping and bike-racing events. In addition, a photographer captured very recent pics of Asher skateboarding, including the one seen in a screen capture at the top of this post.
What happened? Just shy of 3 a.m. yesterday morning, members of the Routt County Sheriff's Office were called to the Kirlan home, in the community of Stagecoach.
The Kirlan home.
Deputies were met there by Michael Kirlan, Asher's dad and Lisa's husband. Michael told them Asher was dead and his wife was upstairs with a gun. They soon found the boy's body, as well as Lisa, who was transported to an area hospital with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
As for a potential motive, law enforcers aren't commenting publicly. But Steamboat Today notes that someone appears to have accessed Michael's Facebook page and posted a photo of a woman accompanied by a caption "alleging an affair." The picture was subsequently removed. The paper later determined the identity of the woman in the image and contacted her; she declined comment, as did a friend of Michael's who answered his cell phone when a reporter called.
In the meantime, Asher is being mourned by those who knew and loved him. Our condolences.
Here's a 7News report about the tragedy.
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