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Herczog murder trial ends with closing arguments

The lawyer for a 22-year-old Santa Rosa man on trial in the slaying of his father argued Friday his actions amounted to voluntary manslaughter, not murder, because he was in a psychotic frenzy at the time.

Attorney Karen Silver told jurors that Houston Herczog was suffering from a mental disorder that impaired his ability to form the requisite intent to murder Mark Herczog, 63.

"Somebody did this who couldn't be in his right mind," Silver said in her closing argument.

However, Silver said even if jurors believe Herczog was exaggerating his delusions to doctors they could find that he acted in the heat of passion after being provoked by his father, who Herczog said accused him of incest with his divorced mother.

Under the law, she said someone who is provoked in that way can only be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

"Anyone would have a passionate response to that," she said.

Prosecutor Bob Waner disagreed, arguing Herczog showed deliberation and premeditation in arming himself with a knife and stabbing his father at least 60 times.

As his dad lay near death on the floor, Herczog smashed his head with a heavy guitar amplifier, he said.

As for his motive, Waner said it was difficult to define but concluded that it had something to do with being confronted by his father for stealing his mother's prescription stimulant, Adderall, which he said is known to trigger aggressive behavior.

He characterized their last conversation as a "concerned, disciplined father wanting to confront his ne'er-do-well son."


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