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Impostor's lawyer points to missing wife as killer

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm •  Published: March 18, 2013

Gerhartsreiter,52, has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, a 27-year-old computer programmer.

Anticipating the defense theory, Balian told jurors: "Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence will show that John and Linda Sohus are dead."

The most mysterious evidence is a series of postcards from Linda Sohus sent to friends and family from Paris after she disappeared. The handwriting was analyzed as hers, but the stamps — which were subject to DNA analysis — were licked by a man who wasn't Gerhartsreiter, the prosecutor said.

Balian said that police earlier this year found a storage locker rented by Gerhartsreiter in Baltimore. Inside, they found postcards from international cities.

A possible explanation, said Balian, is that "the defendant has someone in Europe who mails postcards for him."

The prosecution's case is based on a bag of bones found buried at the property and the fuzzy memories of residents of San Marino, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb. The residents knew the defendant as Chris Chichester.

Testimony was to begin Tuesday.

A gaunt, bespectacled Gerhartsreiter listened quietly on Monday as Balian connected the dots of the defendant's later life.

Balian depicted him as a fabulist, a liar who made up extravagant stories about being a famous film director, the heir to a South African fortune and a descendant of British royalty. The defendant passed around business cards announcing himself as the 13th Baronet of England and once used the name Mountbatten, he said.

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.