Closing Arguments Begin in Fake Rockefeller Murder Trial

Defense attorneys say a clear motive has not been identified in the 1985 slaying of John Sohus

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Closing arguments were heard Monday in the murder trial of a man who calls himself "Clark Rockefeller." Prosecutors described the man as a criminal mastermind, but his defense attorney painted a much different picture of the crime. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 8, 2013. (Published Monday, Apr 8, 2013)

    Closing arguments began Monday morning in the trial for a man who posed as a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family after allegedly killing a Southern California man whose remains were unearthed decades later in his family's backyard.

    Christian Gerhartsreiter, who used several aliases that included Clark Rockefeller, is accused of murder in the death of John Sohus, whose remains were found by a construction crew nine years after he and his wife Linda disappeared. The father-son work crew found the remains when they were building a pool in the backyard of the Sohus family's San Marino home.

    Linda Sohus has never been located.

    Gerhartsreiter, a German national who moved to the United States in the late 1970s, was a tenant on the Sohus' property in the upscale community southeast of Pasadena at the time of the couple's disappearance. He left Southern California for Connecticut in Sohus' vehicle and attempted to assume another life on the East Coast, according to prosecutors.

    Sohus' mother began receiving postcards written to appear as though they were from her son and his wife. Prosecutors claim the postcards were part of a ruse to convince the Sohus family that the couple had left for France.

    He adopted the "Rockefeller" alias in an effort to move in wealthy circles, according to prosecutors. Defense attorneys argued  the defendant's aliases have nothing to do with Sohus' death, and that he is just one of many people who moved to Los Angeles to "reinvent themselves."

    Gerhartsreiter called himself "Chichester" in the early 1980s when he moved to Southern California. He said he was a film student at USC and claimed he was related to Sir Francis Chichester, a famed British adventurer.

    Prosecutors presented three weeks of circumstantial evidence during the trial. Defense attorneys have claimed it is just as likely that Sohus' wife is behind the slaying.

    Prosecutors told jurors during their closing argument that all the evidence pointed to Gerhartsreiter -- not Linda Sohus.

    Gerhartsreiter was serving time for the kidnapping in Boston when investigators connected him to the Sohus case.
     

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