Professional poker player convicted of murdering parents

March 28, 2011 3:53:46 PM PDT
Professional poker player Ernest Scherer III was convicted today of two counts of first-degree murder for killing his parents at their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton three years ago.

After deliberating for two and a half days, jurors also convicted Scherer, 32, of three special-circumstance allegations: two counts of murder for financial gain and one count of committing multiple murders.

In addition, they convicted him of a use-of-a-deadly weapon clause for using a sharp instrument to kill his parents.

He faces a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he's sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner on May 20.

The decomposed bodies of Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, a real estate investor, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, an accounting lecturer at California State University, East Bay, were found at their home on March 14, 2008. They had been brutally beaten and stabbed.

Prosecutor Michael Nieto told jurors he believes they were killed a week earlier, on March 7, 2008.

In his closing argument last week, Nieto alleged that Scherer killed his parents because he faced financial pressure from his gambling debts in Las Vegas and from the purchase of his $880,000 home in Brea. The prosecutor said Scherer also spent large sums of money on various girlfriends that he had around the country.

Nieto said Scherer needed a $616,000 loan from his parents, as well as a smaller loan from the home's previous owners, to be able to afford the house.

Scherer's lawyer, Richard Foxall, told jurors that they should find Scherer not guilty because he doesn't think the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Scherer killed his parents.

Foxall also said jurors shouldn't be swayed by prejudice against Scherer even though "you may not like his occupation or his social relationships."

Nieto and Scherer weren't available for comment after the verdict today because Horner kept in place a gag order he issued at the beginning of the case barring them from talking to the news media.

The family members of Ernest Scherer Jr. and Charlene Abendroth issued a statement thanking the jurors "for all their time and effort in arriving at the correct verdict" at the end of the trial, which lasted nearly three months.

They thanked Nieto for "working day and night to put together a case involving more than 80 witnesses from eight states."

Scherer's ex-wife, Robyn Scherer, his sister, Catherine Scherer, and his grandfather, Ernest Scherer Sr., all testified against him during the trial.

Robyn Scherer and Catherine Scherer were present in court for the verdict today.

Load Comments