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'Rockefeller' conman trial to start Monday

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The murder trial of a German man who allegedly passed himself off as a member of the Rockefeller family will start Monday, after a jury was selected this week, a court clerk said.

Christian Gerhartsreiter, accused of killing his ex-landlord, was present as lawyers questioned prospective jurors to narrow them down Friday to the 12-strong panel which will decide the trial.

Court clerk David Marquez told AFP the trial will start at 9:30 am (1630 GMT) on Monday, and is expected to last three to four weeks. Some 90 juror candidates had filled in questionnaires last Monday.

Gerhartsreiter is charged with murder in the February 1985 death of his former landlord John Sohus.

The victim and his wife were last seen in 1985. A short time after they disappeared, a man calling himself Christopher Chichester, who lived in a home behind the victim's in San Marino, northeast of Los Angeles, also vanished.

Investigators discovered that Christopher Chichester was one of many aliases used by Gerhartsreiter, who also passed himself off as Clark Rockefeller, a member of the storied US family.

Sohus' body was finally discovered in 1994 in his garden. His wife has never been found.

If found guilty, Gerhartsreiter faces a possible prison sentence of 26 years to life, according to the prosecution.

US authorities say Gerhartsreiter entered the United States more than three decades ago and lived under a series of assumed identities, the latest being Rockefeller, a supposedly brilliant member of the wealthy clan.

Gerhartsreiter was found guilty in 2009 of kidnapping his seven-year-old daughter, and was sent to prison for five years.

mt/rcw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130315/rockefeller-conman-trial-start-monday