By Hailey Branson-Potts
1:10 PM EDT, August 15, 2013
The man convicted of murder who masqueraded as a member of the Rockefeller family proclaimed his innocence Thursday as he was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison.
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.
Linda Sohus, who disappeared at age 29, has never been found.
At the sentencing hearing, Gerhartsreiter reiterated his claim that Linda Sohus was to blame.
"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.
Authorities checked databases containing 30 billion records for some sign that she had opened a bank account, received mail or created any other kind of paper trail, but to no avail.
Gerhartsreiter's attorneys argued that Sohus could have been the killer -- a notion several jurors said they quickly dismissed.
After his conviction, Gerhartsreiter, a German immigrant, dismissed his team of Boston attorneys and represented himself during his sentencing hearing -- a move Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli had warned would be difficult to pull off.
Gerhartsreiter was able to review transcripts of the three-week trial, in which more than 40 witnesses testified, but his request for a delay was declined at a July hearing.
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