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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 10, 2013 | By Jack Leonard and Hailey Branson Potts
A German native who consorted for years with New England's social elite by pretending to be a Rockefeller was convicted Wednesday in Los Angeles of first-degree murder, capping a nearly three-decade-old mystery involving a missing couple and a body buried in a San Marino backyard.   Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 52, was accused of bludgeoning his landlady's adult son with a blunt object and then digging a 3-foot-deep grave in the backyard of the victim's home. The body was buried behind a guest house where Gerhartsreiter had been living.
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NEWS
April 9, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts
Jurors weighing the fate of a man accused in the 1985 slaying of his San Marino landlady's son began deliberations Tuesday after a prosecutor said the defendant behaved like a “murderer on the run.” In his rebuttal to the defense's closing arguments, Dist. Atty. Habib Balian said Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter manipulated friends and acquaintances for years, covering his tracks after allegedly killing 27-year-old John Sohus by fleeing California and repeatedly changing his identity.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
A prosecutor urged jurors Monday to find a man who pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller family guilty of murder, saying he was a "master manipulator" who buried the victim's body in a San Marino backyard nearly three decades ago. Deputy Dist. Atty. Habib Balian told the jury in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom that strong circumstantial evidence pointed to Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter's guilt, noting that the German native was staying in a guest house on the property where John and Linda Sohus were living when the couple disappeared in 1985.
NEWS
April 8, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts and Jack Leonard
A defense attorney for a man accused in the 1985 slaying of his San Marino landlady's grown son called his client a “con” and an “impostor” who hid from authorities because he had committed immigration fraud and other white-collar crimes, not because he was a killer. Attorney Jeffrey A. Denner told the jury Monday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom that Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was an intelligent man who defrauded well-educated people from coast to coast, including his Harvard-educated wife and daughter.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2013 | By Mercedes Aguilar, Los Angeles Times
A former San Marino couple has donated $2 million for the second-phase construction of the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. The donation by Judy Yin Shih and Joel Axelrod, who now live in Oregon, will fund the Clear and Transcendent Pavilion, a traditional Chinese structure, which will be at the edge of the lake on the garden's undeveloped north side, Huntington officials announced. In a statement, Shih cited her experience as a Huntington docent in 2008 as helping to inspire the gift.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 7, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
He mixed with the well-to-do in the upscale suburb of San Marino, proclaiming himself an English baronet who taught film at USC. He briefly settled in a wealthy Connecticut enclave, convincing locals he was a successful television producer. He talked his way onto Wall Street, persuading one firm to let him run a bond trading desk. But it was his fraudulent claims of being a member of the famous Rockefeller family that led to his most lucrative success - and, ultimately, his downfall.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 2, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts
During a telephone conversation in 1988, a friend asked Christian Gerhartsreiter a simple question: “Who...are you?” Christopher Bishop, testifying in Gerhartsreiter's murder trial Tuesday, said he became suspicious of his friend after a detective investigating a missing persons case came looking for Gerhartsreiter, who at the time was going by the name Christopher Crowe. Gerhartsreiter didn't answer Bishop's question. “I've gotta go,” Bishop quoted him as saying as he hung up the phone.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 2, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
For more than a decade, Sandra Boss thought she was married to a Rockefeller. Clark Rockefeller had appeared charming, well-spoken and quirky when he wooed the Harvard Business School student in New York in the early 1990s. Later, as a high-powered business consultant, Boss never questioned her husband's stories about his famous family and their falling out over an inheritance dispute. Or his claims of being involved with secretive government work. Or even his reasons for keeping the couple's property, bank accounts and official records out of his name.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 27, 2013 | By Jack Leonard and Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
When Christian Gerhartsreiter learned a detective was searching for him, he became paranoid and started living a more clandestine life, a former girlfriend testified Wednesday. He dyed his dark hair and eyebrows blond. He disposed of his garbage in public trash bins. He had his live-in girlfriend, Mihoko Manabe, walk on the opposite side of the street and refused to exit buildings with her at the same time, Manabe said. Gerhartsreiter's odd behavior began in 1988 shortly after Greenwich, Conn., police Det. Daniel Allen left a phone message seeking to meet with him, Manabe said.
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