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Dateline NBC featuring Castlewood murders tonight

Ernie Scherer III and the 2008 murder of his parents in their Castlewood Country Club home will be the subject at 10 p.m. tonight on Dateline NBC in an episode labeled "Meet 'The Player.'" It approaches the double homicide through the eyes of Adrian Solomon, a woman Scherer III befriended at a Las Vegas casino.

Solomon recalls visiting Las Vegas for the first time and being in a casino watching a craps game when "a gentleman by my side turned to me and said, 'Do you want me to explain the game to you?'"

Scherer III's status as a poker player was such that he received free rooms, free meals and show tickets, she recalled for Dateline.

Solomon testified in Sherer III's trial earlier this year at which he was found guilty of murdering his parents, Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, at their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole with special circumstances for financial gain.

Their bodies were found a week after they'd been bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, stabbed and slashed, in March 2008.

Scherer III was arrested in February 2009, although police said that his lack of emotion made him a suspect from the beginning. Also, a red Camaro similar to his was shown on a surveillance video near Castlewood Country Club around the time of the homicides.

Police carefully built a case against him, tracing his movements in the weeks before the killings. He tried to have a friend buy him a gun in Nevada, driving more than an hour away from Las Vegas, where he was a professional poker player whose winnings had plummeted in the year before the murders.

That friend refused (and later testified against him), but police tracked the purchase of a bat, sneakers and a pair of soccer gloves, paid for in cash, to Primm, a small town in Nevada, at the same time Scherer was there, buying gas and a meal from McDonald's with a credit card. Bloody sneaker prints that matched the style purchased and a label from a matching bat were found at the scene.

In deciding the two life sentences should run consecutively, Judge Jeffrey Horner cited the "horrific nature" of the crime and the level of planning and sophistication involved.

"The real truth of this hideous event is far, far worse ... the fact that their son would do this to them," Horner said in deciding to have the two life sentences run back to back. "A sentence should reflect the damage the horror the defendant unfolded upon his parents."

See the whole story in the April 1, 2011, edition of the Pleasanton Weekly.

Scherer III is serving his sentence at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

-- Reporter Glenn Wohltmann contributed to this story.

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