Accused Castlewood killer's ex-wife testifies
Jurors hear recorded telephone conversation
Suspicious of his activities in the days following the murder of a Castlewood couple, the ex-wife of accused killer Ernest Scherer III began keeping careful notes of what he said and did, according to testimony in court this week.
"I wanted to have a chronological of what was going on. I just wanted to make sure," Robyn Scherer testified. "I knew at some point, I would be sitting in this chair. I just wanted to keep my facts straight."
Robyn Scherer also began divorce proceeding around that time, a few weeks after the bodies of her ex-husband's parents, Ernest Scherer Jr. and Charlene Abendroth, were found in March 2008, bludgeoned and stabbed at their home on Castlewood Drive in Pleasanton.
Much of the court time Tuesday was taken up with a recorded cell phone conversation Robyn Scherer had with her then-husband. Robyn, who was cooperating with the police, talked with Scherer for well over an hour; during that time, he made two declarations of his innocence, saying, "I could not have done what was done to my parents," and "They're not going to convict an innocent man."
For most of the conversation, however, Scherer seemed more preoccupied with the case against him, telling her that police only had a "circumstantial case" and asking her to postpone divorcing him, because "a wife can't be forced to testify against her husband."
In the tape, Robyn Scherer repeatedly asks Scherer to turn himself in, which he refuses to do.
"I'm a suspect and they're just setting up a case against me," he responds. Scherer tells her he's been camping in Northern California, not far from Sacramento, where Robyn was staying at the time with their son, Ernest Scherer IV.
Referring to the case against him, Scherer says, "When they get the DNA back, it won't be my DNA."
Robyn Scherer questions him about a videotape taken at the Castlewood Country Club on March 7, 2008, which is the night police believe the couple was killed.
"It looks like you in your car," she tells him. "Were you in the Bay Area on Friday night? ... It clearly looks like your car."
After a long pause, in which Robyn asks, "Are you there?" Scherer replies, "I'm thinking," then asks where the video was taken.
"Can you see the face of the driver?" he asks. "Obviously the police are listening in on this conversation. I would love to talk to you about a lot of things (but) not on the phone."
Robyn Scherer continues to question him about where he was at the time of the murders.
"Is there any reason you would be in the area?" she asks, and Scherer replies, "We're not going to talk about that on the phone. I have told the police that if you arrest me, I will beat this. I'm just going to trust the criminal justice system," adding, "This has changed me as a person."
"I know there's not going to be any physical evidence of me committing the crime," he tells Robyn.
He also says he was holding out hope that he'll receive his inheritance, which has been estimated at more than $1.5 million.
"If they don't press charges against me in the next three or four weeks, I'm going to get the money," he tells Robyn.
Other parts of the conversation include a discussion about family finances. Robyn Scherer had closed out the family accounts to cover expenses and tells Scherer she's stressed because she has no way to cover bills, which include the debt owed on their home and a credit card bill, neither of which was ever paid. She once again asks him to work with police.
"Do you understand from my perspective it's not looking good that you're not cooperating with police and that they don't know where you are," she said.
Without telling her where he's staying, Scherer responds, "I've been doing some soul searching. It's been a very spiritual experience for me."
After telling her he's all alone, Scherer adds, "Whatever you decide, I hope you don't talk to the police."
He also mentions that, "My father had enemies," but worries that he'd have no money for a defense.
"If they arrest me, I'm at the mercy of a public defender," he says.
His aunt, Carolyn Oesterle, testified earlier that she'd volunteered to pay for an attorney but that his behavior -- suggesting he hide out and providing her with a secret email account -- led her to reconsider.
In the taped telephone conversation, Scherer returns to the videotape from Castlewood, saying, "That itself looks bad for me."
Asked again whether it was his car, Scherer replies, "I'm not going to get into any of that," and says if the case should go to court, there will be testimony that "he doesn't fit the profile. He's not a violent person."
Robyn Scherer also brings up Scherer's repeated infidelities. He responds that he's changed, but also points out, "The police have talked to every woman I've ever known and told them I have a wife and son."
Robyn Scherer also testified that during the time leading up to the double murder, Scherer was gone often from the home they'd moved to in Southern California, where they'd moved to be closer to where he gambled for a living. She also said that his gambling increased to the point he was betting on sports games and "American Idol" contestants.
She teared up when she told the court he been gone the week leading up to the birth of their son in late December 2005, and that he left her with their newborn to attend a New Year's Eve party in Las Vegas that year.
In other recent testimony, Nike representative Herb Hedges told the court about Nike Impact Tomahawk sneakers, a baseball bat and a pair of junior soccer gloves that were purchased at an outlet store in Primm, Nev., near the time Scherer bought gas and a fast food meal in that town.
Hedges had the factory that made those now-discontinued shoes manufacture another to compare to bloody footprints found at the scene. Under cross examination, by defense attorney Richard Foxall, however, Hedges acknowledged that the store was not the only place those products could have been purchased, and that Nike had not checked the records of any other factory outlets.
In addition, Alameda County Sheriff's Technician Tina Kuwitzky testified about a letter sent by Scherer to some friends last year. In that letter, he complains about Foxall's work on his behalf, and that "someone needs to take size 10, 11, 12 and 13 Nike Impact shoes and compare them to the bloody shoeprints."
He also says he hopes that he won't be transferred from Santa Rita Jail, where he's "a big fish in a very small pond," and that he's the "center of commerce" at the jail, controlling books and magazines -- and discusses current "American Idol" contestants.