Slain Mom Was Mormon Who Disapproved of Son’s Poker, Gambling Habit

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Ernie Scherer Murder Trial

The Ernie Scherer III murder trial took on a new twist Wednesday as it was learned that the poker player’s mother disapproved of his gambling addiction. 

Scherer III is alleged to have murdered his father, Ernest Scherer Jr., and mother, Charlene Abendroth, in their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton, California.  The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department reached out to at the time in an effort to provide national attention to the story in hopes that witnesses would come forward.  Eventually, enough evidence was gathered to arrest Ernie III, who was known to owe substantial amounts of money for his gambling habit. 

The couple was found brutally beaten to death in their home in March of 2008.  The prosecution contends that Ernie III planned the murder to look like a home invasion. 

Abendroth frequently expressed to her son that she disapproved of his gambling.  Her husband, however, was also known to play in poker tournaments.

On Wednesday, Ernie’s sister, Catherine, testified before the court.

"It was a frequent conversation topic," said Catherine Scherer, 28, who did not face her brother during the testimony. "What I observed was kind of indifference: 'It's my life, I'll do what I want with it.'"

She described regular tantrums related to confrontations about his gambling between the holiday season of 2004 and 2007: "Anger, slamming of doors, stomping of feet". 

During a family gathering at Christmas 2007, there seemed to be more calm, with Catherine believing that Ernie III was turning over a new leaf.  This was just three months before the double murders.

"I'm a big family person," Catherine told the Court, weeping as she spoke. "It's important for me to have good family relations."

She also testified that one of four swords her father brought back from Turkey had gone missing.  One of the swords is believed to have been the murder weapon along with a baseball bat.

Catherine admitted that she and her brother did not have a close relationship since her childhood.

Over the past couple of days, the jury heard testimony from Charlene Abendroth’s dentist, who claimed that she was distressed a week prior to the killings, and two acquaintances of Scherer III, who say the defendant asked them for assistance in buying a gun. 

A woman who dated the defendant at the time of the murders testified that Scherer III expressed little emotion upon discussing the murder of his parents.

- Christopher Costigan,