Sacto 9-1-1
July 19, 2012
Jury selection to begin in Davis 'sweethearts' murder case

Jury selection in the 1980 Davis "sweethearts" murder case will begin Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Following a lengthy process to pick the 12 jurors and at least four alternates, the attorneys' opening statements will then take place Sept. 4, Judge Michael W. Sweet said in court today.

Richard Joseph Hirschfield, 63, is facing murder and sexual assualt charges in the abduction and stabbing deaths of UC Davis students John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalvez, both 18. The pair were kidnapped after a Dec. 20, 1980, showing of "The Nutcracker" in Davis. Their bodies were recovered two days later in a ravine 30 miles to the east near Lake Natoma.

Judge Sweet is expected to tell jurors the trial likely will last through Jan. 31, including the death penalty phase, if Hirschfield is convicted in the guilt phase.

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