Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: A classmate of mine by the name of Greg Knecht was murdered in 1991. Was his killer ever brought to justice?
Submitted by: Just Wondering, Sacramento
ANSWER: Two men were arrested for the 1991 slaying of 19-year-old Gregory Justin Knecht of Elverta. One admitted to the killing and the other was acquitted.
According to stories in The Bee, Knecht's body was found by a fisherman on July 10, 1991, in a remote spot along the Sacramento River, about 1-1/2 miles south of Garden Highway and Sankey Road. He had been stabbed in the head 43 times and thrown over the riverbank to hide his body, Sutter County sheriff's investigators said.
Deputies, acting on tips from the victim's friends, arrested Richard Hugh Hutchins Jr. of Rio Linda and James Christian Dolce of North Natomas three days later. Dolce and Hutchins had reportedly left a Rio Linda party to lure Knecht to a remote sport on the river with promises of drugs.
Hutchins later admitted stabbing Knecht but told investigators that he had been forced to do it when Dolce allegedly threatened to kill his younger sister if he refused. Hutchins subsequently pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
A Sutter County jury acquitted Dolce of first-degree murder and found him not guilty of lesser charges including second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and accessory to murder. After spending a year in jail awaiting trial, he was immediately released following the verdict.
Hutchins, now 40 years old, is in California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville.
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