, Salem, MA


March 20, 2013

Testimony begins in Rockefeller trial


Farrar said her new friend claimed to be rich

“But there were inconsistencies,” she said. “He had a really old car.”

Also, he often showed up at her home at dinner time, obviously hungry.

Gerhartsreiter later spent years moving through U.S. society under a series of aliases, most notoriously posing as a member of the fabled Rockefeller family.

He has pleaded not guilty to killing Sohus. Opening statements in the trial were made on Monday, when Gerhartsreiter’s attorney suggested that Linda Sohus was responsible for her husband’s death. Neither side has offered a motive for the killing.

In his statement, prosecutor Habib Balian connected the dots of the defendant’s later life. He depicted Gerhartsreiter as a liar who made up extravagant stories about being an heir to a South African fortune, a descendant of British royalty and a famous film director.

When police began asking questions about him, linking him to a truck owned by the Sohuses, he abandoned his $100,000 a year job as a Wall Street bond trader and went into hiding.

He was close to the end of a prison term for the kidnapping of his young daughter in a Boston custody dispute when the murder charge interrupted his chance to regain his freedom.

In 2008, Farrar saw a photograph of Gerhartsreiter in the Los Angeles Times and realized he was the same person she knew as Chichester. She contacted friends at newspapers and has become a well-known witness in the case.

Yesterday Gerhartsreiter didn’t react when Farrar identified him from across the courtroom.

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