Jury recommends execution for Hirschfield

Dec. 6, 2012 at 6:29 PM

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A California jury Thursday recommended the death penalty for convicted murderer and rapist Richard J. Hirschfield.

Hirschfield, 63, was convicted last month of killing sweethearts John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves, both 18, Dec. 20, 1980.

The victims were working in a volunteer production of "The Nutcracker" when Hirschfield kidnapped them. He raped Gonsalves before killing her and Riggins, wrapping their heads in duct tape and dumping them in a ditch, prosecutors said.

In asking for the death penalty, Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet said the brutal nature of the crime warranted the jury's finding, The Sacramento Bee said.

"I stand here before you today completely understanding the gravity of what it is I am asking you to do," Bladet told the jury in her closing argument in Sacramento Superior Court. "I am asking you to return a verdict of death. A verdict of death in this case is the only punishment for this defendant and these crimes, and I ask that with no hesitation whatsoever."

It took jurors 2 1/2 hours to decide Hirschfield should be put to death, newspaper said.

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