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A former Sonoma County resident was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison this morning for the murder of an adult bookstore clerk 28 years ago. Frederick Hertrich, 56, pleaded guilty last month in Sonoma County Superior Court to the first-degree murder of 38-year-old Lawrence Gill at The Adult Bookstore in Sonoma County on May 14, 1984. Gill was strangled with rubber tubing at the bookstore, located at 3301 Santa Rosa Ave, according to the sheriff’s office. As part of Hertrich’s guilty plea, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office dismissed an enhancement for personal use of a firearm and a special circumstance alleging Hertrich killed Gill during a robbery at the bookstore.
Hertrich could have been sentenced to death or life in prison without parole with the special circumstance. Gill’s strangulation murder was unsolved until last year when Hertrich, who lived in Lewes, Del., contacted the Santa Rosa Police Department and admitted that he killed Gill. Santa Rosa police had no record of the homicide, which occurred in unincorporated Sonoma County outside city limits, and the case was turned over to the county sheriff’s office. Delaware authorities arrested Hertrich on March 21, 2011. Gill’s sister-in-law, Patricia Gill, and his brother Russell, now Oregon residents, spoke at the sentencing hearing before Judge Dana Simonds. Patricia Gill said Larry Gill was “a very kind and loving man.”
“You took his body, that’s all you took, but you can never take him away from us,” she said. “I think you are the scum of the earth and I hope you die a very slow and painful death,” she told Hertrich. In a written statement, Russell Gill said his brother was his best friend and “the essence of what a big brother is all about.” He said his brother’s murder “left a hole in his heart that will never be healed.” Outside the courtroom, Russell said investigators should have considered Hertrich a suspect because he was fired from the bookstore. He also said authorities initially believed his brother died after he “was karate-chopped in the back of the neck.”
Lawrence Gill stopped working at the bookstore because of Hertrich, but he went back to work after Hertrich was fired, Russell said. “He was killed the second night he went back,” he said. Neither Hertrich nor his attorney Joseph Bisbiglia made any statements during the hearing. When Hertrich pleaded guilty last month, sheriff’s Sgt. Carlos Basurto said Hertrich said he confessed because the slaying “was eating at him for years.” Basurto said Hertrich also said he was addicted to methamphetamine at the time of the slaying and robbed the store for drug money.
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