General Crime

* Las Vegas Pianist Billy Kraus Testifies That Ernest Scherer III Asked Him To Buy The Gun Which He Later Killed Ernest Scherer Jr And Charlene Abendroth

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A pianist at a Las Vegas nightclub testified today that Ernest Scherer III asked him to buy a gun several weeks before Scherer’s parents were murdered at their country club home in Pleasanton in March 2008.Billy Kraus said he was a close friend of Scherer because Scherer was a regular at Napoleon’s Bar at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, where Kraus performs, but he ultimately decided not to buy a gun for Scherer even though they drove to a gun shop in a small town an hour outside Las Vegas.Called as a prosecution witness in Scherer’s preliminary hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Kraus said, “I’m personally not a fan of guns” and “I made a decision not to buy a gun” for Scherer.Kraus said Scherer, 31, who was a professional poker player, told him he wanted to buy a gun to protect himself because some of his poker player friends had been pulled over at gunpoint and robbed of their winnings.Scherer, who lived in Brea in Orange County in Southern California, wanted Kraus, who is a Nevada resident, to buy a gun for him because California has a waiting period before guns can be purchased but Nevada doesn’t have a waiting period, Kraus testified. Pianist David Mauk, who performs with Kraus at Napoleon’s Bar four nights a week, testified last week that Scherer also asked him to buy a gun for Scherer shortly before Scherer’s parents were killed.Mauk said he declined to do so.Scherer III is accused of two counts of murder for the deaths of Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and his wife, Charlene Abendroth, 57, an accounting lecturer who taught for more than 30 years at California State University, East Bay in Hayward, inside their Castlewood Country Club home in Pleasanton in March 2008.Scherer III also faces two special circumstance allegations that could bring him the death penalty: multiple murder and murder for financial gain. In addition, he’s charged with two use-of-a-deadly weapon clauses for allegedly using a sharp instrument to kill his parents.A forensic pathologist testified last week that Scherer’s parents died from multiple blunt force injuries and stab wounds.According to Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Dudek, Scherer III was a professional gambler whose sole source of income was gambling. He also said Scherer III was known to have debts.Scherer III wasn’t arrested and charged until late February, about 11 months after his parents were killed.The purpose of the preliminary hearing, which will resume next Monday, is to determine if there’s enough evidence to have Scherer III stand trial.On his Web site, Kraus says, “I am a high-energy Rock-n-Roll singer-piano player performing six nights a week.”Kraus testified that Scherer, who has a wife and a child, was a regular at Napoleon’s and was accompanied by a variety of women during the time that they hung out together.Kraus said he frequently socialized with Scherer and once invited Scherer to join him in Puerto Rico when he had an engagement to perform there.He said Scherer told him shortly before his parents were killed that he was “very happy” about dating a lot of women and said “dating is fun.”Kraus said he was “completely shocked” when he learned that Scherer was married and had a child.The pianist said he then stopped socializing with Scherer because, “I thought our trust was completely compromised.”Kraus said Scherer asked if he could stay at Kraus’s house in Las Vegas at one point after Scherer’s parents were killed but he said no. “I told him that whoever killed his parents might be watching him and having him stay at my place might compromise my safety,” Kraus said.

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