Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local investigators take witness stand

By
From page A1 | October 03, 2012 | Leave Comment

SACRAMENTO — Two key players in Yolo County’s failed prosecution of the UC Davis “sweethearts” murder case made appearances Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court, but not to discuss the onetime suspects who never went to trial.

Former Davis police Detective Fred Turner and John Haynes, a retired Yolo County district attorney investigator, talked mostly about chain-of-custody matters — namely, the evidence they shuttled between property storage rooms and crime labs during the late 1980s and early ’90s, years before current defendant Richard Hirschfield was ever on the radar.

Both men still believe that others were involved in the Dec. 20, 1980, slayings of John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves. And both are expected to return to court later this month, when the defense begins a case that relies heavily upon the theory it was that third party, and not Hirschfield, who kidnapped and killed the UCD students nearly 32 years ago.

Yolo’s case against the so-called “Hunt group” — David Hunt, Suellen Hunt, Richard Thompson and Doug Lainer — was dismissed in 1993 after newly discovered DNA evidence from a semen-stained blanket found in Riggins’ van excluded Riggins and the three male defendants as the donors.

Investigators believed David Hunt masterminded the murders to draw heat away from serial killer Gerald Gallego, Hunt’s half-brother, who had recently been jailed for a similar double homicide in Sacramento.

However, Turner did shed light Tuesday on what may have been a missed opportunity in the investigation — his submission of the blanket to the California Department of Justice crime lab for analysis on June 21, 1989, five months before the Hunt group’s arrests.

Turner asked that the blanket be examined for trace evidence, but his paperwork mentioned only “hair and fiber” and didn’t extend to bodily fluids such as semen or saliva.

“In my mind, (fluids) would have been included … but I didn’t specifically ask,” Turner testified. As a result, “we got a report from the criminalist that found nothing.”

Later, Turner admitted he had little experience in submitting evidence for forensic analysis back in those days.

“It would have been my presumption that if they saw something, they would note what they thought it was,” he said.

The stains also went undetected during a viewing of the case’s evidence that took place sometime in 1990 or ’91, involving the Hunt group’s eight defense attorneys, as well as four of their investigators. Haynes said the blanket may have been folded at the time, and no one was allowed to touch it.

“I don’t recall any comments by anybody” about the blanket, said Haynes, who was asked by Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet whether the stains’ discovery would have been considered “a significant event.”

“Absolutely,” he replied.

Haynes returned the blanket to the DOJ crime lab for further testing in 1992, when criminalist Faye Springer spotted the four semen stains that, a decade later, identified Hirschfield as a suspect in the case.

Hirschfield has pleaded not guilty to the murders, which prosecutors say was carried out during a sexual assault of Gonsalves. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Earlier Tuesday, the Hunt group was the focus of a lively debate outside the jury’s presence as Hirschfield’s attorneys attempted to persuade Judge Michael Sweet to revise one of his pretrial rulings on the subject.

The ruling allows the defense to refer to the Hunt group as prior suspects in the case, but bars any mention of their three-plus years being prosecuted in Yolo County or of the copycat murder theory that led to their arrests.

Hirschfield’s lawyers said they may subpoena “one or several” of the Hunt group’s attorneys to testify, and they fear the jury may be confused by their connections to the case.

“There’s no prejudice to the people for the jury to know the truth, that there was a prosecution. It gives a context to what’s going on,” defense attorney Linda Parisi said.

Bladet opposed the request and Sweet concurred, saying details of the unsuccessful prosecution are of no value or relevance to the current trial.

“It just causes more problems than it solves,” Sweet said.

— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

 
Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
A springtime ritual

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Ortiz lawn signs available

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Steadfast in their support

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Quilters gear up for annual show

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

League hosts a series of candidate forums

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

Calling all Scrabble fans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

.

Forum

Take ownership of your health

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Keep your baby safe

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Not thrilled with lack of symmetry

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

 
Road diet? No, city diet!

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 5 Comments

We’re reveling in our equality

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 3 Comments

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

 
Core values on campus

By Our View | From Page: A12, 3 Comments

 
Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

.

Sports

Devils burn up the track

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Will Davis get an Old Soul?

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

 
Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

University Honda wins another President’s Award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8