Attorneys for Richard Joseph Hirschfield began their defense in the penalty phase of his murder trial today by putting a psychiatrist on the stand who said the convicted sex murderer has a badly damaged brain.
Hirschfield's brain does a terrible job of processing emotional impulses, and it fails to exercise proper control over his behavior, University of California at San Francisco associate professor Dr. Douglas Tucker told the defendant's Sacramento Superior Court jury.
"I can say there is brain damage," Tucker testified, adding that Hirschfield's cerebral dysfunction put him at risk of developing antisocial behavior.
Hirschfield, 63, was convicted last month of murdering 18-year-old UC Davis students John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves on Dec. 20, 1980 -- snatching them after they worked on a performance of The Davis Children's Nutracker, then slashing their throats and dumping their bodies in a ditch near Lake Natoma. He also was convicted of a sexual attack on Gonsalves.
Tucker's testimony came after the prosecution rested its case in the penalty phase of Hirschfield's murder trial. Jurors are now being asked whether Hirschfield should face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.