Hillsborough deputy had alcohol and drugs in his system before murder-suicide, report says

Kirk Keithley's blood-alcohol content was .156, according to the report, and he had oxycodone in his system.
Pasco deputies say that Kirk Keithley, a Hillsborough deputy, killed his wife Samantha and then himself in  September. [Facebook]
Pasco deputies say that Kirk Keithley, a Hillsborough deputy, killed his wife Samantha and then himself in September. [Facebook]
Published January 8
Updated January 9

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Kirk Keithley had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the amount at which Florida law presumes a driver is impaired and an opiate in his system on the September morning when he fatally shot his wife and himself at their Land O’ Lakes home, according to a medical examiner’s report.

Keithley, 39, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.156, according to a toxicology report from the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office. Samantha Keithley, 33, the deputy’s wife, had no substances in her system when she died, according to the report.

State law presumes a driver is impaired at 0.08 or greater.

Oxycodone, an opiate found in medications like OxyCotin and Percocet, also was detected in the deputy’s urine sample, according to the report, but no amount was given. The medical examiner typically doesn’t measure drugs in urine samples because they are so diluted, said Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the office.

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The medical examiner’s report did not address how alcohol and drugs may have interacted in Kirk Keithley’s system but medical and addiction experts believe that mixing the two can be dangerous. Both are depressants.

Samantha Keithley’s uncle, Ted Fraley, told the Tampa Bay Times last week that it makes no difference to him whether her husband was drunk or high. Most people who drink, Fraley said, don’t commit murder.

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“That alcohol and those pills don’t explain anything — it’s all on Kirk,” he said. “It doesn’t take away any of the pain. It doesn’t justify anything.”

Samantha Keithley would have turned 34 on Dec. 29.

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Authorities say Keithley shot and killed his wife at their home on Terrazzo Way in Land O’Lakes before turning the gun on himself around midnight Sept. 24.

Pasco County deputies were called to the home when Samantha Keithley's 14-year-old son, Mark Price, ran to a neighbor's home and called 911. He told a dispatcher that his stepdad had shot his mom in the head.

The couple’s three other children were in the Keithley home at the time.

Keithley’s actions and another recent murder-suicide by a Hillsborough deputy helped prompt Sheriff Chad Chronister to schedule a new suicide awareness program starting in January for department personnel.

Chronister announced the program after Deputy Terry Strawn killed his wife, granddaughter and daughter before turning his service weapon on himself Dec. 19.

The sheriff said it was important that his department break down the stigma faced by officers reluctant to come forward to seek treatment out of fear that doing so would jeopardize their careers.

Staff writer Howard Altman contributed to this report. Contact Justin Trombly at [email protected] Follow @JustinTrombly.

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