Castlewood trial near conclusion | March 25, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 25, 2011

Castlewood trial near conclusion

Jury hears closing arguments

by Glenn Wohltmann

The jury received its final instructions shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday in the murder trial of Ernest Scherer III and, as of press time, was expected to go into deliberations soon afterward.

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In closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Richard Foxall repeatedly called into question testimony from witnesses -- including Scherer's family members -- claiming they "shaded the truth."

Scherer is accused of two counts of murder for the deaths of his parents, Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, inside their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton in March 2008.

During final arguments, Scherer was animated, frequently nodding his head or smiling at points made by his attorney, and frowning or shaking his head during prosecutor Michael Nieto's closing.

Foxall repeatedly stressed what testimony the jury could consider reasonable and unreasonable in his argument, focusing again on his and Scherer's claims that police never looked at any other potential suspects.

Robyn Scherer, for example, was furious with her husband after learning from investigators the extent of Scherer's infidelities.

In addition, Foxall said, "Police had threatened to take their child."

Foxall also focused on differences in what witnesses told police in the initial investigation and how that testimony changed on the witness stand.

Ernest Scherer Sr., for example, didn't mention differences between his son and grandson during his first talk with detectives, but later changed his statement, according to Foxall. Scherer's aunt, Carolyn Oesterle, didn't mention the fist-pumping she claims he did when she told him he couldn't have committed the crime until January 2009, nearly a year after the deaths.

"Mr. Scherer's family embellished the facts," Foxall told the jury, explaining that they were likely looking for closure and believed the police account of the crime.

He told jury members they had to put emotion aside when considering the case, something he claimed the family was unable to do.

Foxall also created a document that showed Scherer and his wife weren't in the dire financial situation clamed by prosecutor Nieto, and repeatedly mentioned unidentified DNA in "footprint 13-J," referring to crime scene photographs.

In the prosecution closing on Monday, Nieto reviewed his case, which relies entirely on circumstantial evidence, saying, "A liar stands alone."

That evidence includes a video of a car matching Scherer's Camaro convertible in the area near when police think the murders occurred; an unexplained time that Scherer's cell phone was off around that time; and the purchase, hours earlier, of a bat, sneakers and soccer gloves in Primm, Nev., near the time Scherer was buying gas and fast food in the same town.

Nieto portrayed a man who believed he could get away with murder, and repeated his claim that the motive was for Scherer to get his hands on an inheritance of well over $1 million.

Members of the family, including Osterle and Ernest Scherer Sr., were in court this week in anticipation of a verdict.