OAKLAND (BCN) – A professional poker player accused of killing his parents for financial gain in March 2008 testified in his own defense Thursday morning in his Alameda County Superior Court murder trial.
Ernest Scherer III, 32, faces two counts of murder for the deaths of Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, at their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton.
In his second day of testimony, Scherer continued a run-through of his background under questioning by his attorney, Richard Foxall.
He testified that in 2006, he was caught counting cards and banned from playing blackjack at several Las Vegas casinos, including the Bellaggio, MGM Grand, Paris, Caesar’s Palace and the Rio.
Also that year, Scherer testified, he took a trip to Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico, with Adrian Solomon, a woman he was having an affair with. At the time, he was still married to his now ex-wife, Robyn Scherer, who testified for the prosecution last week.
He said that while in Mexico, he researched buying a gun in order to bring it back to the U.S. Foxall asked Scherer why he would look into buying a gun in Mexico and avoid registering it in California.
Scherer replied, “If you don’t want to legitimize paranoia, why does the government need to know who owns guns?”
Scherer then testified that in 2007, he looked into buying a house in the Orange County town of Brea. He began moving cash from a safe-deposit box into his bank account, he said.
He testified that he hadn’t deposited the cash into his account earlier because he hadn’t declared the money as income.
Scherer was to continue testifying Thursday afternoon.
The decomposed bodies of Scherer Jr., a real estate investor, and Abendroth, an accounting lecturer who taught for more than 30 years at California State University East Bay in Hayward, were found at their home on March 14, 2008. The couple had been brutally beaten and stabbed.
Prosecutor Michael Nieto said he believes they were killed the night of March 7, 2008.
In addition to the two counts of murder, Scherer faces two special-circumstance allegations of multiple murder and murder for financial gain.
He is also charged with two use-of-a-deadly-weapon clauses for allegedly using a sharp instrument in the murders.
Nieto told jurors in his opening statement that he believes Ernest Scherer III killed his parents because he faced financial pressure from his gambling debts in Las Vegas and from the purchase of the home in Brea.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)