Santa Rosa man convicted in dad's murder

Jurors convicted a 22-year-old Santa Rosa man of first-degree murder Monday in the stabbing death of his father in the kitchen of their Rincon Valley home.

The nine-woman, three-man panel rejected possible lesser charges for Houston Wolfe Herczog, who claimed he killed Mark Herczog, 63, during a psychotic break.

His lawyer, Karen Silver, suggested a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, saying he was incapable of premeditation or planning.

The jury deliberated less than one day before reaching its verdict.

"I'm shocked," Silver said outside court. "I thought at the very least second-degree murder."

Jurors apparently didn't accept the assertion that Herczog's judgment was clouded by delusions that his father was possessed by an evil force and trying to kill him. Nor did they find that the father provoked Herczog.

A second trial will begin Tuesday to determine if Herczog was sane at the time.

If jurors find he was mentally impaired, he could be sentenced to a state hospital. If he is deemed to have been in control of his faculties, he faces a punishment of 25 years to life in prison.

The slaying happened in November 2011 after Herczog returned from a late-night visit to his divorced mother's house. He was suspected of stealing her prescription stimulant, Adderall.

When Mark Herczog confronted him, his son grabbed a kitchen knife and began stabbing him in the face, neck and torso. He smashed his father's head with a guitar amplifier as he lay on the floor.

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