An El Dorado Superior Court jury on Tuesday convicted Sacramento defense attorney Richard W. Hamlin of torture, the most serious of 18 felony counts of against him. But the jury delivered mixed verdicts on the remaining 17 counts of spousal abuse, assault and child endangerment.
On the ninth day of deliberations, the jury of eight women and four men found Hamlin guilty of eight charges, including torture, spousal abuse and child endangerment; they found him not guilty of seven counts, including false imprisonment, making death threats and assault; and they were deadlocked on three charges of assault, making death threats and assault with a deadly weapon.
During the two-month trial, which began in late October, jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses and viewed more than 300 exhibits.
Hamlin, the 45-year-old former Sacramento prosecutor, has been in custody with no bail since shortly after his arrest Feb. 28, 2004.
Deputy District Attorney Vicki Ashworth argued that Hamlin, a 17-year veteran lawyer, was in financial ruin and in desperation concocted a plan to extort $1 million from his 71-year-old father-in-law. Hamlin’s El Dorado Hills mansion was in foreclosure and his $700,000 law practice was on the brink of bankruptcy, witnesses testified.
Key to the success of Hamlin’s plan was his wife, Susan Hamlin, who testified the violence began and escalated during the last five years of their 20-year marriage.
Richard Hamlin forced Susan Hamlin, 49, to write letters and journals and to contact childhood friends to manufacture incriminating evidence for a lawsuit accusing the father-in-law of molesting Susan Hamlin when she was a child, the prosecutor maintained.
Hamlin, who testified in his own defense, said he was a victim of a vendetta hatched by his father-in-law, who was a Central Valley agricultural researcher. Hamlin said his father-in-law was also a leader of a Satanic cult who worried that Hamlin was about to expose him in the lawsuit.
The father-in-law enlisted Granite Bay cult members and Susan Hamlin to have Hamlin killed as a “Christian trophy,” Hamlin testified.
After the mother of four backed out of the conspiracy, cult leaders beat Susan Hamlin and then helped her leave a “paper trail” to blame the injuries on her husband, Richard Hamlin claimed.
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