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Rockefeller con man Gerhartsreiter tries new role as own lawyer in murder sentencing

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, listens during opening statements in his trial, in Los Angeles Criminal Court on Monday, March 18, 2013. A prosecutor told jurors Monday he will prove a cold-case murder allegation against the German immigrant who spent years moving through U.S. society under a series of aliases, most notoriously posing as a member of the fabled Rockefeller family. He has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, 27, who disappeared with his wife, Linda, in 1985 while Gerhartsreiter, using an alias was a guest cottage tenant at the home of Sohus' mother, where the couple lived. (AP Photo/Nick Ut ) Nick Ut

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, listens during opening statements in his murder trial in Los Angeles Criminal Court on Monday, March 18, 2013.
AP Photo/Nick Ut
(CBS) LOS ANGELES -  The man who posed as a Rockefeller while acting as a serial con artist and eluding a police murder investigation for more than two decades made a court appearance Tuesday in yet another role: playing the part of his own attorney.

Renown for his outrageous inventions of wealth and royalty, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, made a bold claim in court to counter the judge's repeated admonition that he was engaging in a "fishing expedition."

"Well your honor I have found something," Gerhartsreiter announced with his practiced aplomb.

"The victim's wife not only pre-planned this crime but hid her disappearance from the victim."

Unlike the wealthy targets of Gerhartsreiyer's con games, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli appeared unimpressed with this assertion that the convicted imposter had discovered a "new lead" indicating it was actually the wife of murder victim John Sohus who committed the crime.

During trial, Gerhartsreiter's attorneys had unsuccessfully attempted to shift blame for the 1985 murder onto Linda Sohus. The prosecutor implied (during closing argument) that Gerhartsreiter had murdered Linda Sohus, too, although he was not charged with that crime.

Since being convicted last April of the murder of San Marino, Calif. resident John Sohus, 28, Gerhartsreiter fired his high-priced Boston attorneys in favor of representing himself for sentencing. Gerhartsreiter faces 25 years to life for first degree murder.

Unable to wear his signature "Rockefeller suit" of starched khaki pants, a buttoned down Oxford shirt, loafers without socks, and a crisp blue blazer that he donned each day during trial - the self-styled attorney appeared today in the iconic LA County Blues of a common criminal.

Tuesday's hearing devolved into what sounded like a remedial law school seminar as the judge cautioned the convicted killer about basic legal points he needs to address in writing his motion requesting a new trial.

Gerhartsreiter apologized to the Judge that his motion might be "a bit raw," saying it may read more like a "debater's motion than a legal motion." He explained that 30 years ago he had taken a debate class in college.

A review of Gerhartsreiter's college transcript reveals he received a "D minus" in that debate class at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. His experience there was featured prominently at trial when the prosecutor implicated Gerhartsreiter by revealing that the victim's skull had been buried wrapped in a plastic bag bearing the school's logo.

Tuesday's pre-sentencing hearing was the result of a letter Gerhartsreiter wrote the judge from his jail cell explaining, "I may have to request an extension."

To that end the confidence man's latest incarnation as self-appointed attorney was a failure. Judge Lomeli insisted that sentencing would proceed as planned Aug. 15, at which time the judge promised to consider Gerhartsreiter's motion.

His new dual role as convicted killer and self-styled lawyer has resulted in an unfamiliar, if honest, identity change for the erstwhile chameleon now known as inmate # 2800458.

The same man who slid easily from Baronette Chichester of royal heritage, to Hollywood producer-turned-Wall St. mogul Christoper Crowe, wealthy scion of the Rockefeller dynasty, to yachtsman Chip Smith, has finally come back to his birth name.

Although he once displayed the audacity to ask an L.A. County Judge that the courtroom refer to him by his falsely assumed alias Clark Rockefeller, in jail the convicted killer is now, for the first time in three decades, signing his letter to the judge more humbly as "C. Gerhartsreiter."

Complete coverage of the Clark Rockefeller impostor case on Crimesider

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