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A Delaware man pleaded guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court this morning to the 1984 strangulation murder of an adult bookstore clerk during a robbery. Frederick Hertrich, 55, was living in Santa Rosa when he strangled 38-year-old Lawrence Gill with rubber tubing during a robbery at The Adult Bookstore just south of city limits on May 14, 1984. Hertrich once worked at the bookstore, but he did not know the victim, Sonoma County sheriff’s Sgt. Carlos Basurto said this morning.
The murder remained unsolved until Hertrich contacted the Santa Rosa Police Department from Delaware last year and admitted to killing Gill. Santa Rosa police had no record of the killing, which occurred in an unincorporated area, and contacted the sheriff’s office, Basurto said. The sheriff’s office reviewed the cold case, Delaware authorities arrested Hertrich on March 21, and sheriff’s detectives brought Hertrich back to Sonoma County, Basurto said.
Hertrich pleaded not guilty on April 6 to committing murder during a robbery and personal use of a firearm. He changed his plea this morning before Judge Dana Simonds. Hertrich admitted that he had a methamphetamine addiction at the time of the slaying and robbed the store at gunpoint for drug money, Basurto said.”He stayed in the area for some time but ended up in Lewes, Delaware,” Basurto said.
When Hertrich confessed, he said the murder was “eating at him inside for years,” Basurto said. “He thought the (Gill) family should know what happened to their loved one,” Basurto said. When Chief Deputy District Attorney Diana Gomez told the judge
this morning that Hertrich always wanted to plead guilty to the murder, Hertrich said, “Thank you.”
As part of the plea agreement, Hertrich will be sentenced on Aug. 20 to 25 years to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss the enhancement alleging personal use of a firearm during a robbery and will strike from the record the special-circumstance allegation that the murder happened during a robbery. “This is a just outcome. He came to us and solved this crime,” Gomez said outside the courtroom.
Gomez said Gill’s family is relieved and satisfied with the outcome of the case, and plans to attend Hertrich’s sentencing next month. Deputy Public Defender Joseph Bisbiglia declined to comment on the plea agreement this morning.
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