Sacto 9-1-1
September 30, 2011
Sacramento judge asked to keep trial date on 'Davis sweetheart' killings

The parents of one of the victims of the 1980 "Davis sweetheart" killings asked a judge today to not grant defendant Richard Hirschfield another delay in his Sacramento Superior Court trial.

"As we are getting older, this is something that is in our life every day," said Kate Riggins, 76. "We feel very strongly we need to keep to the date and at least get things underway so justice can be done."

Her son, John Riggins, and his girlfriend and fellow UC Davis student Sabrina Gonsalves, both 18, were last seen the night of Dec. 20, 1980. Their slain bodies were found two days later in a ravine near Lake Natoma.

Hirschfield, 62, was charged in the case in 2004 after a DNA sample linked him to a semen stain found on a blanket in the victims' van.

HIs trial is set for Jan. 30, but defense attorneys LInda Parisi and Kenneth J. Schaller have asked Judge Michael W. Sweet to delay it so they can go through additional materials that have been forwarded to them in the case.

Sweet said that 25 of the 485 potential witnesses have died.

"My goal is to press on," he said.

Kate Riggins was joined at today's hearing by her husband, Richard Riggins, also 76. He told the judge "we appreciate your effort to keep it going, and please do."

Ginger Swigart, the brother of Sabrina Gonsalves' father, also asked the judge to not delay the trial.

"It's time to move on," she said.

Parisi said outside court that she only recently received some 4,000 more pages of discovery, on top of the 220,000 pages of documents already compiled, and said she needs time to peruse them.

The defense lawyers also filed motions to change the venue for the trial and to sequester the jury.

Sweet set up a schedule for the defense lawyers and Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet to file and respond to motions. He scheduled a Dec. 2 date to begin hearings on the motions and issue rulings on them.

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