Rockefeller imposter Christian Gerhartsreiter jailed
- 15 August 2013
- From the section US & Canada
A German man who pretended to be an heir to the Rockefeller oil fortune has been jailed for killing his California landlady's adult son in 1985.
Christian Gerhartsreiter, 52, was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison at a Los Angeles federal court.
He had been living in Los Angeles under a false name when he murdered John Sohus, 27, whose bones were later dug up at the house.
Sohus' wife Linda, 29, also vanished. No trace of her has ever been found.
In April, a jury found Gerhartsreiter guilty of first-degree murder with malicious intent and of using a blunt object as a deadly and dangerous weapon to kill.
They took less than six hours to convict him.
Gerhartsreiter proclaimed his innocence as he was sentenced on Thursday, accusing Linda Sohus of the killing.
"I want to assert my innocence and that I firmly believe that the victim's wife killed the victim, but be that as it may, once again, I did not commit the crime," he told the court, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Gerhartsreiter had defended himself after firing his lawyers.
After the killing, he fled to the East Coast in his victim's pickup truck, changing his name a number of times.
During his time evading justice, Gerhartsreiter - who came to the US more than 30 years ago - masqueraded as a Hollywood producer, a Wall Street financier and an English aristocrat.
Witnesses testified at the trial about the stranger who befriended church members who invited him into their homes.
He pretended to be Clark Rockefeller and even got married, fooling his wife for 12 years.
But the ruse was exposed after his 2009 conviction for abducting his daughter in Boston, Massachusetts, during a custody dispute. That conviction prompted investigators to re-examine the California case.
His former defence lawyer, Jeffrey Denner, said that Gerhartsreiter probably was his own worst enemy.
"The way he went through life deceiving people did not make him very likable to the jury," Mr Denner said. "But that doesn't make him a killer."