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After 32 Years, ‘Sweetheart Murder’ Case Goes To Trial

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Three decades after two UC Davis students were murdered, a suspect in the case is finally going to trial.

Richard Hirschfield is accused of killing John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves 32 years ago. Opening statements began Tuesday morning in Sacramento Superior Court.

“Thirty years is a drop in the bucket when you love someone,” said Andrea Rosenstein, Sabrina’s sister. “It’s nothing.”

Riggins and Gonsalves, both 18, were kidnapped in Davis on December 20, 1980. Their bodies were found dumped near Lake Natoma two days later. Sabrina Gonsalves had been raped.

The case is known as the “Sweetheart Murders.”

At one point, Yolo County prosecutors charged four people with the murders, but those charges were later dropped when a DNA test from a blanket left in Riggins’ van did not match any of the defendants.

In 2004, a DNA hit came back on Hirschfield, who was serving time for rape in Washington.

Since then, there have been numerous delays in the trial.

Hirschfield could face the death penalty if convicted.

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