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A man who authorities say adopted several aliases, including that of a Rockefeller family member, was in court Monday for the first day of jury selection in his murder trial. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday March 11, 2013.
The man accused of killing his Southern California landlord in 1985 before moving to the East Coast and assuming several aliases -- including that of Rockefeller family member -- was in court Monday for the first day of jury selection in his murder trial.
Juror questionnaires were distributed Monday morning in the case of Christian Gerhartsreiter, 52, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 27-year-old landlord in 1985. Authorities claim he left Southern California after the slaying in San Marino -- a community southeast of Pasadena -- and posed as a member of the Rockefeller family to establish himself in wealthy circles.
Nearly 90 potential jurors were at the courthouse Monday when the judge presented a brief overview of the case. The judge told potential jurors the trial might last about six weeks.
The list of potential witnesses includes several law enforcement agents from Boston, Southern California and Connecticut. A document examiner and one of the defendant's ex-girlfriends also are listed as potential witnesses.
Gerhartsreiter, a German national, moved to the United States in the late 1970s and adopted at least five aliases, including "Clark Rockefeller," during his time in the United States, according to investigators. He is serving time for a conviction after his 2008 arrest for abducting his 7-year-old daughter during a supervised visit in Boston.
Gerhartsreiter, 52, was an exchange student who went by the name "Chris Chichester" when he was living in a guest house in the early 1980s on the Sohus family's San Marino property. The remains of John Sohus were found nine years after his 1985 disappearance in the backyard of his home (map) by a work crew that was digging a hole for a swimming pool.
Gerhartsreiter left Southern California for Connecticut in Sohus' vehicle after John Sohus and his wife, Linda, disappeared, according to investigators. Linda Sohus' remains have never been found, and charges have not been filed in her disappearance.
The criminal complaint states Sohus was killed between Feb. 1, 1985 and Feb. 28, 1985 with a "blunt object."
During a preliminary hearing, Gerhartsreiter's ex-girlfriend -- she knew him as "Christopher Crowe" -- testified that after he lost his job she obtained a credit card for him under the alias "Clark Rockefeller." She also recalled during the January 2012 preliminary hearing how he changed his appearance after she told him she received a phone call from a detective who was looking for him in 1988.
Gerhartsreiter pleaded not guilty. He is being held on $10 million bail at Los Angeles' Men's Central Jail.