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Boston suspect will not fight extradition to California in 1985 San Marino slaying

May 20, 2011 |  3:09 pm

Photo: Christian Gerhartsreiter is shown during his arraignment at a Boston municipal court on March 15, 2011. Credit: Essdras Suarez / AP A German-born man who ingratiated himself with the Boston elite while known as Clark Rockefeller will not fight extradition to California in the 1985 killing of his San Marino landlord, his attorney said Friday.

Born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, he has informed the warden at a Massachusetts prison where he is serving a four- to five-year term for custodial kidnapping of his daughter that he will not challenge his transfer to California, said his attorney, Brad Bailey.

Gerhartsreiter, 50, is charged with the murder of Jonathan Sohus, a 26-year-old computer programmer who mysteriously disappeared with his wife, Linda.

Jonathan Sohus' remains were discovered in 1994 in the backyard of his home on Lorain Avenue, where Gerhartsreiter had rented the guesthouse in the 1980s under the name Christopher Chichester.

But authorities had been unable to find Gerhartsreiter until his 2008 arrest in the kidnapping of his 7-year-old daughter on a Boston-area street. At the time, police linked Gerhartsreiter's fingerprints to the San Marino case.

Bailey insists that his client is innocent and that he has yet to see a shred of evidence to support the murder charge, but won’t fight the transfer.

"The sole issue is identification and we've decided not to fight the issue of identity and let the process move forward,'' he said.

The attorney said he expects his client will be arraigned in three to eight weeks in California, where he plans to mount a rigorous defense.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have yet to be informed of the German native dropping his efforts to fight the transfer, said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman.

Gerhartsreiter could be eligible for release in Massachusetts next year. Over the years since entering the United States as a student, he has assumed many names, duping people from coast to coast, prosecutors said.

After the disappearance of the San Marino couple, Gerhartsreiter reportedly told Jonathan Sohus' mother that the couple were going to work for a European aircraft company his family owned.

Investigators said he later tried to sell the couple's truck in Connecticut before assuming another identity and disappearing.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Christian Gerhartsreiter is shown during his arraignment in a Boston court March 15. Credit: Essdras Suarez / Associated Press