Defense begins in Castlewood killing case
Suspect begins casual affair days after double slaying
It may be the defense's turn to present evidence in the trial of Ernest Scherer III, but witnesses this week spent much more time answering questions from prosecutor Michael Nieto.
Scherer is on trial in the stabbing and bludgeoning deaths of his parents, Ernest Scherer Jr. and Charlene Abendroth, at their Castlewood home in March 2008. The prosecution rested its case last week after Scherer's ex-wife spent nearly a week on the witness stand.
One of the witnesses called Tuesday testified she'd begun a casual relationship with Scherer just days after he allegedly killed his parents.
Arisa Kim of Los Angeles told the court they ran into each other at a trapeze class on March 10 and went out that night and the two following nights. Kim testified for the defense that Scherer, who attended trapeze class in a sleeveless shirt, had no visible cuts or bruises on his arms, and that while attending a comedy show, all the men were asked to "drop trou" and Scherer had no injuries to his legs.
Under cross examination by Nieto, Kim told of being taken to expensive restaurants frequented by Scherer and his wife, Robyn, who was staying with her parents at the time.
On the third date, after attending a hockey game, Kim told the jury she went to the Scherer's home in Brea, Calif., where Scherer showed her his son's bedroom.
She didn't know at the time that Scherer had a son and testified that he explained the room by telling her he'd let an old friend move into part of the house after she had fallen on hard times.
Kim said she and Scherer spent part of the night together.
"We were sort of cuddling on the couch watching TV. There was some kissing," she testified.
She also told the court that he sounded "cool and calm" when he called to tell her his parents' bodies had been found.
"He didn't sound happy (but) he sounded kind of calm," Kim testified. "I thought it was shock, but he sounded calm."
Kim testified she broke off the relationship after learning about the killings and giving Scherer several opportunities to tell her he was married.
Defense witness Kaveh Gooyandeh testified that a suspicious man came to his home in the Castlewood area on March 8, the day officials believe Ernest Scherer Jr. and his wife, Charlene Abendroth were killed. Gooyandeh told the court a small, thin, unkempt man came to his home that day, selling meat from a freezer mounted in the back of his truck. The man never identified himself, and Gooyandeh said he didn't take the direct way back to his truck and looked suspiciously at the home's open garage door.
Gooyandeh's testimony may have been discounted by Nieto, who asked if the small man had particularly large feet, a reference to the bloody size 13 sneaker prints found at the scene.
Another witness, Hermann Welm of San Ramon, testified that he regularly played small-stakes poker with Ernest Scherer Jr. before he died, and that the elder Scherer often carried large sums of money and seemed to be proud of his son.
The prosecution played a small portion of a tape made when Welm showed up for a poker game at the Scherer home in Castlewood the day the bodies were discovered. On the tape, Welm said he was tearing up, and said the elder Scherer was "a controversial figure" and "He was hated by the school board."
Defense attorney Richard Foxall never followed up on those comments, and Welm went on to testify that he told investigators the Scherer home was hard to find and "it has to be somebody who knows where he lived."
Defense witness Stephen Shaffer testified that the elder Scherer foreclosed on his home in Santa Cruz after lending him more than $100,000. But Shaffer -- a former San Ramon resident -- testified under cross examination that Ernest Scherer Jr. paid the stakes for him to enter a poker tournament.
Foxall has maintained that police focused their investigation on Scherer from the start and never looked at anyone else who could have had a motive for the killing.