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Rockefeller impostor found guilty of murder

April 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The man who tried to pass himself off as a member of the Rockefeller family was found guilty on Wednesday in the 1985 murder of John Sohus in San Marino.

Christian Gerhartsreiter entered the courtroom wearing a slight smile, but all that changed, once the jury's decision was read.

The jury deliberated for less than eights hours before returning to convict Gerhartsreiter for first-degree murder using both blunt and sharp objects as weapons.

"We are extremely pleased that the jury was able to resolve this case and bring closure to what has been a very, very long, long time coming," said Assistant District Attorney Habib Balian.

Prosecutors depicted Gerhartsreiter as a lying, scheming con-man who bludgeoned and stabbed his landlady's son, John Sohus, in San Marino 28 years ago. Ellen Sohus said her brother's unsolved murder took a heavy toll on her family.

"My first thought was, 'It's finally over.' And I was moved to tears. It's finally over," she said.

Prosecutors never offered a motive for the killing, but Ellen Sohus thinks her brother probably confronted Gerhartsreiter, the German immigrant who had been renting a guesthouse on the property.

"If there was something that he felt he needed to protect his mother from, he would have confronted someone," Ellen Sohus said.

John and Linda Sohus vanished in February 1985. Nine years later, workers building a swimming pool found the remains of John Sohus buried in his own backyard. Linda Sohus has never resurfaced, and defense attorneys argued that she was the real killer. Jurors did not agree.

"The evidence, it just didn't seem logical, it didn't seem right," one juror said.

Gerhartsreiter's defense team says they will appeal the verdict. He faces 27 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 26.


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