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Prosecutor Says Debt Led Poker Player To Kill Pleasanton Parents

OAKLAND (BCN) -- A prosecutor alleged Tuesday that financial pressures drove professional poker player Ernest Scherer III to murder his parents at their upscale Pleasanton home in March 2008.

In his opening statement in Scherer's trial in Alameda County Superior Court, prosecutor Michael Nieto said Scherer's birth was the "most precious event" in his parents' lives because he was their first child.

But Nieto said Scherer "grew into a narcissistic and sociopathic killer" who murdered them because he expected to inherit a substantial amount of money from them.

KCBS' Bob Melrose Reports:

Nieto said Scherer, who is now 32, bought an $880,000 home in Brea in Orange County in September 2007 because he thought it would be "perfect" for himself, his wife and their young son.

But he said Scherer needed to get a $616,000 loan from his parents to be able to afford the home, and the house became "the accelerant" that caused him to fall deeply into debt.

The decomposed bodies of Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, a real estate investor, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, an accounting lecturer who taught for more than 30 years at California State University, East Bay, in Hayward, were found at their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton on March 14, 2008.

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

Nieto said he believes they were killed on the night of March 7, 2008.

A forensic pathologist testified at Scherer's preliminary hearing in 2008 that the couple died from multiple blunt force injuries and stab wounds.

Scherer III is accused of two counts of murder and also faces two special circumstance allegations: multiple murder and murder for financial gain. In addition, he's charged with two use-of-a-deadly weapon clauses for allegedly using a sharp instrument to kill his parents.

Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty for Scherer, but he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if he's convicted.

After prosecutors wrap up their opening statements, defense attorneys will present their case.

(© 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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