Attorneys made their opening statements in the trial of murder suspect Christian Gerhartsreiter on Monday, March 18.
Prosecutor Habib Balian told about John and Linda Sohus who, “without explanation, without any apparent reason, in early February of 1985, just vanished… and left their family and friends behind.” John’s body was discovered buried in his mother’s backyard in 1994, near a guest house where the defendant lived until shortly after the couple disappeared.
Balian acknowledged that some postcards sent to friends of Linda Sohus in April of 1985 were likely written by the missing woman —
But, “The experts will tell you that Linda did not write these postcards under normal circumstances,” Balian said. “The evidence will show you she did not send these from Paris, France. ”
“Besides,” Balian noted, Linda had no desire to go abroad. She had no passport, no money and no connections in Europe. “
Balian did not discuss any motive Gerhartsreiter had for the murder, or any physical evidence, like DNA, that would link him to the crime.
The defense’s opening statement by Gerhartsreiter’s attorney Brad Bailey pointed to John Sohus’ wife, Linda, as his murder.
“There isn’t going to be much more than that in terms of solid evidence to this quite old, once quite cold and still untold case,” he said…
Although Linda Sohus was never found, authorities have said they presume her to be dead.
Bailey told jurors it was possible that Linda Sohus, whom he described as “just as odd” as his client, killed her husband.
“There are just as reasonable inferences for you to assume that John Sohus’ murderer might have been … the missing Linda Sohus,” Bailey said.
The attorneys previewed one conflict over DNA evidence – Balian said a DNA analysis of stamps on three postcards sent by Linda Sohus indicated none were licked by Gerhartsreiter or either of the missing couple. In response, Bailey said the defense would produce a witness who will say Linda cannot be ruled out as a source of DNA on those postcards.
Here are links to first day coverage by local reporters.
Los Angeles Times: