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Forsberg Murder Trial: Not A Quick Conviction

Richard Forsberg concedes he killed his wife by manslaughter. The jury's full day of deliberation offers mixed messages depending on which side of the aisle an attorney sits.

Defense attorney Calvin Schneider spent Thursday milling about the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, close enough to Judge William Froeberg's courtroom that he would be handy if a jury returned a quick verdict in the case against his defendant. 

Schneider spent the previous four days trying to convince seven men and five women that Richard Gustav Forsberg, 63, killed his wife by manslaughter instead of murder.

"The longer it goes," Schneider said, "the more hope I have."

But his presence Thursday morning after his heat of passion argument indicated he thought a quick decision by the jury was possible if not imminent. Instead, Schneider's day was spent waiting—and waiting.

Jury members, who deliberated through the morning break, filed out of court at 4:30 p.m., and will return on Monday.

  • Day 1: Forsberg Trial Begins Today
  • Day 1: 'What He Left Of Her Was ... Nothing!'
  • Day 1:
  • Day 2: 'What Do You Do With A Dead Body?'
  • Day 3: 'Everything Else Was Incidental'
  • Day 4: 'Both Sides Rest'
  • Day 5:

Forsberg is accused of killing Marcia Ann Forsberg, 60, with whom he had been married 39 years. Her death in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2010, came on the 42nd anniversary of the couple's first date as sweethearts at Ventura College.

According to evidence, much of it the recorded interviews of Forsberg, he pummeled his wife with a nightstand figurine—a six-armed Hindu goddess—weighing between 16 and 24 ounces.

He confessed to investigators that:

  • He killed her as she lay in bed during an argument and said something dismissive to him and turned away from him.
  • He cut up her body and 10 days later began burning the body parts in different campsites at Lake Piru.
  • He told friends and family that she was visiting a friend in Arizona to work things out while the couple underwent marital discord—a ruse he maintained for six months until friends filed a missing persons report.

Ebrahim Baytieh, the prosecuting attorney, said he wasn't worried that the jury didn't render a quick decision on a case he told them "wasn't even close" to being manslaughter instead of the first-degree murder conviction sought by the district attorney.

"There's no debate about manslaughter—he confessed to that," Baytieh said. "This tells me they're going step-by-step through instructions. They want to do their job. They were pre-qualified to be available through next Wednesday. They don't want to rush.

"I feel confident."

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