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Lawyer: Rockefeller impostor will be 'vindicated' in murder trial

January 25, 2012 |  8:08 am

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter

The Rockefeller impostor who faces trial in the cold-case slaying of a San Marino man feels "somber" about the case but believes he'll ultimately be vindicted, his attorney said.

"He's always maintained his innocence," said attorney Jeffrey Denner. "At the end of the day he believes he will be vindicated."

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jared Moses ordered German-born Christian Gerhartsreiter to stand trial for the death of John Sohus, whose decaying remains were unearthed in San Marino in 1994. He ordered Gerhartsreiter to remain in custody in lieu of $10-million bail.

In the convoluted story told in an Alhambra courthouse, many new details of the three-decade-old murder mystery emerged — bloodstains, putrid black smoke, skull fractures, possible stab marks. Still, the prosecution's case was plagued by long-faded memories, gaps in forensic technology and allegations about a second victim whose body was never found.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence connecting Gerhartsreiter to the killing was presented at the very end of the hearing in a stipulated statement between the attorneys. A plastic bag that enveloped the skull, they said, bore a logo of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that was in use from 1979 to 1982 only. Gerhartsreiter, they said, was a student there from 1980 to 1981.

Gerhartsreiter is due back in court Feb. 9 for arraignment.


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-- Victoria Kim