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Christian Gerhartsreiter Guilty: Rockefeller impostor convicted of 1985 Calif. murder

Christian Gerhartsreiter listens to final arguments by prosecutor Habib Balian during his trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, April 9, 2013. Pool,Walter Mancini,AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Christian Gerhartsreiter listened to final arguments during his murder trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
Pool, Walter Mancini, AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune
(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - Jurors found Christian Gerhartsreiter guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the decades-old killing of a California man whose wife also disappeared.

The jury of six men and six women received the case Tuesday and deliberated for half the day before going home without reaching a verdict.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 28. Gerhartsreiter faces 25 years to life in prison for the murder conviction, plus two

additional years because the jury also found that he personally used a blunt object and a sharp instrument as weapons. It was not a death penalty case.

Gerhartsreiter, a German immigrant whose elaborate charade as a member of the fabled Rockefeller oil family unraveled when he was arrested, was convicted in the murder of John Sohus, who disappeared in 1985.

Gerhartsreiter's lawyers claimed Sohus was killed by his wife, who has been missing since the couple vanished. Prosecutors ridiculed that theory.

However, they conceded no motive had been presented during the three-week trial for the killing of Sohus.

"Some cases are so old that you never get every question answered," Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian said in his closing argument.

He urged jurors to find Gerhartsreiter guilty anyway.

"He's gotten away with it long enough," Balian said. "Hold this man accountable."

The bones of John Sohus were unearthed in the backyard of his mother's former house in San Marino in 1995. Gerhartsreiter lived as a tenant on the property in 1984 and 1985, vanishing around the same time the couple disappeared, according to witnesses.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Jeffrey Denner described his client as "an odd guy" but not a killer. Gerhartsreiter used many aliases, including the name Clark Rockefeller.

Complete Coverage of the Christian Gerhartsreiter case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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