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Rockefeller Impostor Found Guilty

A talented con-man was found guilty in the 1985 murder of a San Marino resident.

Jurors found a man who once claimed to be a member of the Rockefeller family guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday morning after one day of deliberations.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 52, was convicted in the February 1985 murder of San Marino resident John Sohus.

The trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court focused on the discovery of Sohus' bones in 1994, nearly a decade after he and his wife disappeared from the family's San Marino home.

Gerhartsreiter, a German immigrant, lived in the family's guesthouse - close to where Sohus' bones were discovered amid excavations for a swimming pool.

Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian told the courtroom that Gerhartsreiter "never thought'' that the bags buried in the San Marino backyard, including a "double bagged" skull of John Sohus in a bag from USC's bookstore, would be unearthed.

Defense Attorney Jeffrey Denner countered the prosecution by building up Gerhartsreiter's savvy.

Denner asked "whether someone as intelligent and persuasive ... would be likely to commit a murder ... and then spread breadcrumbs behind leading people to him.''

"Persuasive" is perhaps an understatement -- Gerhartsreiter varyingly claimed to be a Rockefeller, a Hollywood producer named Christopher Chichester, and an English nobleman.

Denner minced no words to the jury, telling them Gerhertsreiter is "a schnook and worse" but that his crimes of deceit were a far cry from violent murder.

Gerhartsreiter acted "like a murderer on the run," said Balian, highlighting that he gave up a Wall Street job after detectives questioned him about the Sohus couple.

Gerhartsreiter was not charged in connection with Linda Sohus' disappearance, despite Balian's referring in his closing arguments to evidence linking him with her death.

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