LOS ANGELES (AP) – The defense and prosecution rested their cases in the murder trial of a notorious Rockefeller impostor Wednesday after his ex-wife called him a consistent liar and “an unpleasant human being.”
Defendant Christian Gerhartsreiter chose to not testify in his own defense against charges that he killed a suburban San Marino man who vanished along with his wife in 1985.
He never made eye contact with Sandy Boss, the woman who was his wife for 12 years, and she avoided looking at him.
The defense cross-examination by attorney Jeffrey Denner suggested she should have known earlier that his life was a fabulist’s wild invention and he had no relationship to the Rockefeller family.
She said she met him as Clark Rockefeller and never knew him by any other name.
“He lied pretty consistently,” she said, enumerating the tales he told after their 1994 marriage. He declared at one point that he had a master key to Rockefeller Center and that he was in line for an appointment to the Federal Reserve Board. He bragged of having gone to Yale at the age of 14. She later found out he never attended the university.
Boss, who was the breadwinner in the family, said she was earning $1.2 million a year at a management consulting firm in New York and all of it was wired to her bank account which was controlled by her then husband.
“He controlled all the finances,” she said. “I had access to money for things he deemed acceptable …. It was impossible to oppose my ex-husband’s wishes without severe consequences.”
After their daughter was born in 2001, Boss said she became disenchanted with the man who had wooed her with his intellect, charm and fabulous stories.
Now, she said, “He was an unpleasant human being who was choosing not to work which was a surprise to me.”
She told him she wanted a divorce and “He told me if I went ahead with this I would never see my daughter again.”
A pretrial ruling barred prosecutors from asking her about his kidnapping of their daughter after their divorce, which sent him to prison in 2009.
Boss lives in London with their now 12-year-old daughter.
There was little mention Wednesday of the missing John Sohus. Boss said her husband told her he had lived in California once but gave no details. She didn’t know he was a German immigrant who was under investigation in the couple’s disappearance.
Before resting, the defense called two handwriting analysts who said postcards sent from Europe were indeed written in the handwriting of the victim’s missing wife. Linda and John Sohus disappeared in 1985.
The defendant is charged with the murder of John Sohus, whose bones were unearthed a decade later from the yard of a home where the couple lived with Sohus’ mother and Gerhartsreiter rented a guest cottage. Linda Sohus has never been found.
Defense attorneys claim that Sohus was not killed by their client but by his wife.
There has been no evidence of a motive for either Gerhartsreiter or Linda Sohus to kill John Sohus.
The judge ordered attorneys back to court Thursday to discuss jury instructions. He scheduled final arguments for Monday.
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