Poker Player Accused of Killing Parents: “Being Deceptive is Part of My Job Description”

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Ernie Scherer III

Throughout the murder trial of poker player Ernest Scherer III, witnesses testified regarding his “odd” behavior following the brutal bludgeoning and stabbing murders of his parents in their home near San Jose, California. 

This week, it was Scherer’s turn to take the stand. 

The Pleasanton Weekly noted that, in 90 minutes of cross-examination late Tuesday, prosecutor Michael Nieto forced Scherer to say that he lied often in instances in which he had extramarital affairs or had to borrow money.
Scherer also noted that “being deceptive” is part of a poker player’s job description. 

Whether Scherer III is able to bluff the jury remains to be seen.  His Camaro appeared at the home of his parents (courtesy of surveillance tape) right around the time the murders were supposed to have taken place.   He also acted somewhat cold following news of the double murder of Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, and even conducted searches over the Internet on countries that do not have extradition treaties with the US. 

Authorities say Scherer III turned off his cell phone, drove from Las Vegas to his parents home in Northern California nearly three years to the day (March 7, 2008), then bludgeoned them with a youth baseball bat and stabbed them with one of his father's Turkish swords.  The next day he was back at his Brea, California home and played bridge with his grandfather, Ernie Sr.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department at the time feared Scherer III could leave the country.  Soon-to-retire Sgt. Scott Dudek enlisted the help of to promote the double murder, which at the time, despite the brutality, received little coverage beyond the Bay Area of California.  Authorities hoped that’s worldwide reach could result in potential witnesses outside of California coming forward.  More specifically, police were looking for those individuals who Scherer III may have owed money to.

The motive behind the murder is said to be money.  Scherer III is alleged to have killed his parents as a means of gaining an over $1 million inheritance.  But the elder Scherer had other ideas.  The night of the murder, Nieto surmises the defendant’s father demanded payback on a loan. 

Scherer initially objected when Nieto alleged that he had never been in such deep debt before because he owed a lot of money on his house, saying that he considered his house to be an asset as well as a liability, the Pleasanton Weekly reported. 

But Scherer III eventually changed his stance.  He smiled and said of the mortgage: "It was the most debt I'd ever had in my whole life."

On Wednesday, the defendant admitted further that he lied about his financial woes when questioned by police two days after his parents bodies were found.

"It was a bad decision I did not want to be treated like a suspect. I did not enjoy being treated like a suspect," he said. "In my heart I know I'm innocent, yes. And I chose to lie about my financial situation in March 2008, yes. Both of those statements are true."

The Mercury News noted Wednesday evening that, after nearly five hours of intense testimony, Scherer III remained mostly composed.

Nieto presented to the jury a chalkboard listing the various lies told by Scherer III.  He also read aloud a heart-felt letter from his mother asking him to turn away from gambling and come back to his Mormon faith.

"Your mother loved you, correct?" Nieto asked.
"And I loved her," he replied.

Trial testimony continues Thursday.  A verdict is anticipated this month. 

- Christopher Costigan, Publisher