By Amy Berberyan, Darling Gonzalez, and Jake Romero
INDIO, CA – Forensic psychologist Jennifer Bosch testified in Riverside County Superior Court Friday in the murder trial of Raul Sanchez, Jr., that Sanchez believed his victim was going to perform ‘witchcraft’ on him.
Sanchez, 41, is charged with the 2012 murder of his father’s girlfriend, Carolina Vargas.
Dr. Bosch stated in her testimony that she believed Sanchez was likely in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the murder. However, she said she did not consider him to be impaired to the point of not understanding the “wrongness” of his actions.
The expert witness said that, during her interview with him, Sanchez did not report having disorganized thinking, hearing voices or experiencing delusions or command hallucinations when he committed the crime.
Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse asked Dr. Bosch about the significance that Sanchez threatened to kill the victim and acted violently toward her prior to the murder.
“It supports the ultimate act, that there were actions, thoughts, feelings about motive…in support of the ultimate act of ending her life. It was not just a random occurrence,” Dr. Bosch said.
In an attempt to demonstrate Sanchez’ ability to understand the nature and quality of his actions, DDA Lofthouse asked Dr. Bosch about Sanchez’s ability to accurately describe the way in which he killed Vargas and whether it demonstrated his comprehension of the crime he had committed.
Dr. Bosch replied, “Correct. He didn’t minimize it. He was very consistent with what the police reports indicated. He was honest and straightforward in stating that he stabbed her (and) she yelled out at one point, and he said at that point, I quote, ‘I finished her.’”
DDA Lofthouse then asked if Sanchez’ action of taking a shower after the murder had any significance in Dr. Bosch’s evaluation.
Dr. Bosch replied, “He said that he had blood all over him so he took a shower. So the action is again goal directed. He wanted to clean up the blood that was on his body.”
During DDA Lofthouse’s line of questioning, Dr. Bosch also revealed Sanchez’ jail call to his father on Nov. 30, 2012 was significant in her evaluation of Sanchez’ awareness of his actions being “morally or legally wrong.”
Bosch explained that in the phone call, Sanchez apologized to his father about taking his girlfriend’s life and that his expression of empathy along with his ability to put himself in his father’s position and apologizing demonstrated that he understood the wrongfulness of his actions.
Prior to the murder of the victim on Nov. 21, 2012, Sanchez had a documented history of mental illnesses. At age 19, institution records say that he was diagnosed with a mood disorder that was further impacted by his drug abuse. Records from the same institution confirm he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression.
When questioned by Assistant Public Defender Kimberly Allee, Bosch confirmed depression qualified Sanchez as having a mental illness. She was, however, “more inclined to agree with bipolar disorder” than schizophrenia and depression.
On the day of the alleged crime, Bosch believed that Sanchez was suffering from drug-induced psychosis.
She stated that, when talking about the day of the incident, Sanchez believed that his victim was going to perform witchcraft on him. As she did not know the nature of the victim’s alleged witchcraft practice, Bosch was uncertain of whether this was a bizarre or paranoid statement given by Sanchez.
Furthermore, Bosch said that Sanchez’s verbalized desire to kill the victim and eat her insides could have been a logical statement meant to scare her away.
According to Bosch, Sanchez denied hearing voices on the day of the incident; she said the alleged murder had nothing to do with the voices he had previously self-reported.
Bosch said Sanchez admitted he experienced an uncontrollable urge to end the victim’s life, telling the doctor he got up from the couch, seized a screwdriver and a knife, and ended the victim’s life in accordance with satisfying this urge.