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Rockefeller impostor at sentencing: 'I did not commit the crime'

Clark Rockefeller48 Hours (tv program)

Just before a Rockefeller impostor was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison, he proclaimed his innocence and accused the victim's wife of killing her husband.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was found guilty in April of murdering his landlady’s adult son, John Sohus, who vanished from San Marino in February 1985, as did his wife, Linda. Gerhartsreiter left San Marino soon afterward, resurfacing on the East Coast under a series of new names, including Clark Rockefeller. 

Gerhartsreiter, 52, was accused of bludgeoning John Sohus, 27, in the head with a blunt object. His body was found buried behind a guesthouse on the Lorain Road property, where the couple lived with John's mother in the main house. 

The body of Linda Sohus has never been found.

"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," Gerhartsreiter said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli sentenced Gerhartsreiter to 25 years for the killing, with an additional two years for using a deadly weapon. 

John Sohus' half-sister, Ellen Sohus, said in court Thursday morning that even though Gerhartsreiter has been convicted, there is no closure.

"John is still gone," she said. "What we do have are some answers. In 1994, we had some of the questions answered when John's remains were found buried in his own backyard, but so many questions remain unanswered."

"Why did you kill my brother?" she asked, addressing Gerhartsreiter directly. "What happened to Linda? I believe Linda is dead and that you are responsible for her death."

Sue Coffman, Linda Sohus' best friend, said she's relieved the ordeal is over.

"It's over for me," Coffman said. "He can appeal all he wants to. He can be as famous as he wants."

Gerhartsreiter had already granted an exclusive interview with the CBS show "48 Hours" prior to the hearing, according to the judge.

Coffman hugged Ellen Sohus after court. They each took a deep breath and smiled.  

For the Record, 2:18 p.m. PDT Aug. 15: A previous version of this post stated Ellen Sohus said she was pleased Gerhartsreiter was not eligible for parole, but a court spokeswoman later said he would be eligible for parole in 27 years, minus the amount of time he has been in custody in Los Angeles.

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Twitter: @haileybranson

hailey.branson@latimes.com

 

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Clark Rockefeller48 Hours (tv program)
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