Connect to share and comment

Fake Rockefeller trial set for closing statements


Lawyers will make closing statements next week in the trial of an alleged German killer who posed as a member of the storied Rockefeller family for years after the crime, a judge said Wednesday.

The judge asked jurors to return to court Monday after two and a half weeks of testimony in the trial of Christian Gerhartsreiter, accused of burying the dismembered body of John Sohus in his backyard in 1985.

The prosecution rested its case after Gerhartsreiter's former wife, Sandra Boss, testified that she thought her former spouse "lied pretty consistently" during their marriage.

Gerhartsreiter, 52, is charged with murdering Sohus, whose remains were only found nine years later when new owners of the house were digging up the yard to make a swimming pool.

Linda Sohus vanished at the same time, as did Gerhartsreiter -- who moved to Connecticut and changed his name a number of times, eventually calling himself Clark Rockefeller and getting married, fooling even his wife for 12 years.

His ex-wife said her marriage to Gerhartsreiter, who also passed himself off as an English nobleman at an earlier stage, was "very unpleasant" and that she tried to leave him, but was told she would never see their daughter again if she did.

"He controlled all the bank accounts and he monitored all my transactions," said Boss, who was making about $1.2 million a year in 2004 while working for a management consulting firm.

"It was impossible to oppose my ex-husband's wishes without severe consequences," she told the Los Angeles Superior Court, where the trial got underway on March 18.

The German's defense lawyer claims that Sohus' wife Linda could just as easily have killed her husband, noting that she was 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) and weighed 200 pounds (90 kilograms), whereas Gerhartsreiter was 5 foot 6 inches (1.7 meters) and weighed 140 pounds (63 kilograms).

Key evidence were postcards seemingly sent by Linda Sohus from Paris three months after the couple's disappearance. Prosecutors say Gerhartsreiter arranged for them to be sent, while his lawyer said she did in fact mail them.

Handwriting expert Sheila Lowe testified that, comparing known samples of Linda Sohus' handwriting with that on the postcards, she believed they were "written by the same person."

But she and another forensic expert said it was impossible to determine under what circumstances they were written.