Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 21, 2011

National show considers Scherer trial for TV

Defendant jokes about potentially appearing on true-crime show

by Glenn Wohltmann

The trial of accused Castlewood killer Ernest Scherer III has gone national, with the arrival of a CBS "48 Hours Mystery" staffer and a possible show about the case.

The show's producers seem to have a unique sense of timing, given that Scherer joked in a letter to friends that the case could end up on that show. The letter was read to jurors during prosecutor Michael Nieto's opening arguments earlier this month.

In court Tuesday, jurors again viewed photos of Scherer's parents, Ernest Scherer Jr. and Charlene Abendroth, showing the pair bludgeoned and stabbed at their home on Castlewood Drive. The younger Scherer is charged with the March 2008 killing in what Nieto claims was an attempt to get an estimated $1.5 million inheritance.

Scott Miller, the first deputy to arrive at the bloody double slaying testified about being called to the scene, viewing the body of Ernest Scherer Jr. through a window and finding the front door unlocked.

Nieto had Miller testify that neither he nor the two other deputies that arrived wore gloves or protective gear, possibly as a way of accounting for unexplained DNA found at the scene.

Defense attorney Richard Foxall has pointed to that DNA, claiming that investigators focused solely on his client from the beginning without considering other suspects. Foxall has also said there's no direct evidence linking his client with the killings and that the prosecution is relying solely on circumstantial evidence.

Another deputy, John White, testified that despite being assigned to the area for about a year, he'd never been down the dirt road that led to the Scherer's parents' home. The prosecution has claimed that the home was hard to find for someone not familiar with it.

A video played for jurors this week seemed to indicate the road to the home at 18 Castlewood Drive was difficult to find. It showed there was no street light at the corner of the road, which abuts a one-way road leading out of the country club.

Foxall, meanwhile, continued asking questions that could leave loopholes in Nieto's case. The defense attorney has said money was not an issue with the family, refuting Nieto's claim that money -- in particular the $616,000 home loan Scherer's parents provided to their son and daughter-in-law -- was the motivation behind the killings.

In court last week, family friend Guy Houston, former California assemblyman and Dublin mayor, of Valley Capital Investment & Mortgage testified that the elder Scherer asked about refinancing the loan, but seemed neither angry or upset about the money.

Scherer's sister Catherine also testified last week that their mother, Charlene, was upset that her son had quit his job to become a professional poker player.

The trial is expected to last four months.

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