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Poker Player Accused Of Killing Pleasanton Parents Gives Alibi

OAKLAND (BCN) - A professional poker player accused of killing his parents in 2008 drove home from Las Vegas and fell asleep on his couch the night they were murdered in their Pleasanton home, he testified Monday in Oakland.

Ernest Scherer III, 32, told an Alameda County Superior Court jury that he checked out of Caesars Palace at about noon on March 7, 2008, and drove back to the house he shared with his wife and young son in the Southern California city of Brea. Robyn Scherer, who is now his ex-wife, was in Sacramento at the time.

Scherer is suspected of killing his parents, Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, for financial reasons on March 7, 2008, at their Castlewood Country Club home. He faces two counts of murder.

abendroth scherer
(L-R) Charlene Abendroth, Ernest Scherer Jr. (CBS)

The couple's decomposed bodies were found on March 14, 2008. They had been brutally beaten and stabbed. Scherer was a real estate investor and his wife an accounting lecturer at California State University, East Bay.

Their son said on the witness stand Monday that he might have stopped for food and gas on March 7 in Primm, Nev., which is part of his normal routine, but that other than that he went straight home.

Scherer drove frequently between Las Vegas and Southern California, and he had cut this trip short because he had agreed to play a bridge tournament with his grandfather and needed to meet him at 7 a.m. the next day, he said.

He testified that his phone lost power and turned off in the car on the way home, and that he plugged it into its charger when he reached his house. He left it turned off because his poker friends sometimes call him late at night, he said.

It was still light out when Scherer reached Brea, he said.

When he got up at 5:30 a.m. the next day, he turned on his phone and discovered several messages from his wife asking if he was OK, Scherer testified. He then drove to San Clemente and placed second in the bridge tournament with his grandfather, he said.

Prosecutors allege that Scherer killed his parents after falling deep into debt, thanks in part to the $880,000 Brea home he bought in September 2007.

Scherer has testified that he was having an on-and-off affair with one woman and dating several others, including one whom he met March 6, 2008, after she responded to a Craigslist ad he had posted seeking a date.

His parents provided a $616,000 home loan that prosecutor Michael Nieto claims became the "accelerant" for Scherer to fall deep into debt and kill his parents.

In addition to the two counts of murder, Scherer faces two special-circumstance allegations of multiple murder and murder for financial gain. He is also charged with two use-of-a-deadly-weapon clauses for allegedly using a sharp instrument in the murders.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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