Orange County News

Closing arguments in Rancho Santa Margarita murder trial

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Closing arguments were underway Wednesday in the murder trial of a south Orange County man charged with brutally killing his wife, then disposing of her remains.

The grisly testimony and tapes that surfaced in the trial could be factors in the jury's decision. Richard Forsberg wiped away tears in court Wednesday as his attorney told jurors that Forsberg, 63, was remorseful after killing his wife Marcia.

Rick Forsberg, 63, is accused of killing his wife of nearly 40 years. Marcia Forsberg, 60, was a retired writer and a breast cancer survivor. Prosecutors say Rick Forsberg decided he no longer wanted to be married.

The defense said a culmination of health and marital problems had built up by February 9, 2010, the 42nd anniversary of the couple's first date. Marcia turned her back on him in bed during an argument in their Rancho Santa Margarita home. The defense contends Forsberg committed manslaughter, not murder. "It enraged him. It made him upset, and so therefore I think he was acting in the heat of passion," said defense attorney Calvin Schneider. "Make no mistake about it: In this courtroom sits a murderer," said prosecuting attorney Ebrahim Baytieh in court. The prosecution alleges Forsberg beat Marcia over the head with a figurine, then cut her up and decapitated her. Jurors watched videotapes of Forsberg telling investigators how many cuts he made to her body. "This man murdered his wife of 39 years because it wasn't fun for him anymore to be married to her," said Baytieh.

Surveillance video shows Forsberg buying two freezers. Prosecutors allege he rented an RV to transport her to a campground in the Lake Piru area of Ventura County, where he burned her remains. Marcia Forsberg's remains have never been found.

Prosecutors say Forsberg continued working as a Coast Community College administrator. They say Forsberg spent more than $20,000 on gambling and prostitutes. He repeatedly told concerned neighbors and friends they were having marital problems and that Marcia would hopefully return at a later time. After six months, a friend reported her missing.

The day after being interviewed by investigators, Forsberg took pills to try to kill himself. Despite a suicide note and a later audio-taped confession, the defense says the statements alone do not constitute murder.

"A lack of evidence showing that what he said happened, happened," said Schneider.

Prosecutors say Forsberg got rid of any evidence to try to avoid getting caught.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Thursday.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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missing person, court case, orange county news, eileen frere
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