Prosecutors rested their case today in the Richard Joseph Hirschfield murder trial. Defense attorneys then immediately launched their presentation, questioning a detective who investigated four suspects who previously were cleared in the killings of UC Davis students John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves.
The witness, former Davis police Det. Fred P. Turner, told the Sacramento Superior Court jury how he picked up the cold case seven years after the Dec. 20, 1980, bludgeon and slashing deaths of the two 18-year-old victims. He said he built his case on an informant who "elicited remarkable information" during a taped conversation with one of the four previous suspects in a skid-row hotel in Los Angeles.
Details from informant Ray Gonzales' conversation with the suspect, Richard Thompson, implicating himself or the other purported accomplices never made it onto the tape, however. Turner said he then told Gonzales to record his own recollections onto a new tape.
"He was a trusted informant," Turner said of Gonzales, under questioning from defense attorney Linda Parisi.
On cross-examination from Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet, Turner said he only worked six homicide cases in his eight years as a detective in Davis. He confirmed that he did not get a usable recording of anything Thompson told Gonzales, that he did not document his informant's criminal history or use of drugs and alcohol, and that he did not track payments that he may have made to Gonzales.
Bladet was scheduled to continue her cross-examination of Turner later this afternoon. Gonzales is expected to follow Turner to the witness stand.