The Region

A psychiatrist testified that the man who fatally bludgeoned Laura Camargo, 24, of Nipomo, strangled and suffocated her 23-month-old son, Sterling Gonzales, and sexually molested her two daughters, Stephanie, 4, and Shawna, 3, before beating them to death with a hammer and a metal ring sizer was drug-impaired at the time of the crime. Testifying during the penalty phase of the trial of Richard Benson, which was moved to Santa Barbara Superior Court from San Luis Obispo because of pretrial publicity, defense psychiatrist Gene Abel said Benson was under the influence of an "exceedingly dangerous" combination of amphetamine use and sexual attraction for children when he committed the crimes in January, 1986. Benson faces a possible death penalty.

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