Episode 5: DNA Hit To Cold Case Prosecution: UC Davis Sweetheart Murders (pt. 4)

Description: How the cold case prosecution for the 1980 murders of two UC Davis students unfolded over 30+ years.  Part 4 concludes with the sentencing phase – the sentence, reaction and impact on the victims’ families and final thoughts from Bladet and Garverick on the case.

Show Notes:  The court process was not over after the jury returned its verdict.  In capital cases, there is a sentencing phase to determine if the death penalty will be imposed.  Bladet and Garverick discuss what happens in this phase – which focuses on the lives taken and the loss and pain it left for the families and the community.

This is the first opportunity to tell the jury who John and Sabrina were, what kind of people they were – what they aspired to be and the potential they had to make a real difference in the world.  This is also the first time family members take the stand.  Garverick works on showing how Hirschfield is deserving of the death penalty through his criminal history and the wake of victims he has left in his path.  Learn how the defense tried to make a case that Hirschfield should be spared the death penalty.  When the sentence is handed down, Bladet recounts how the Riggins and Gonsalves families felt about the sentence.

With the case closed, we hear how the Riggins and Gonsalves families were impacted through the years to this day.  Bladet talks about the personal relationships she developed with the families over the years and still maintains today.  Garverick recounts what he took away from his experience on this case, as they state it is one that will stay with them.  This podcast episode series ends with how “justice delayed is still justice served.”

This case was featured on 48 Hours (https://www.cbsnews.com/video/the-sweetheart-murders-3/).

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Tags: District Attorney, Cold Cases, Cold Case Prosecutions, DNA, DNA Evidence, DNA Hit, Forensic Science, UC Davis, Sweetheart Murders, Justice, Capital Murder, Death Penalty, True Crime, Justice Journal