crimesider

'Crockefeller' Twist: Jury To Hear Both Names Of Alleged Con Man

(AP Photo/Essdras Suarez)

"Clark Rockefeller" during his arraignment at a Boston municipal court, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008.

BOSTON (AP) A man accused of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter from a Boston street last summer insists his name is Clark Rockefeller. Prosecutors say his real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German national who used the famous Rockefeller ame to ingratiate himself into wealthy society.

The jury at his kidnapping trial will hear him called by both names.

A judge ruled Tuesday, just before jury selection began, that prosecutors could call him Gerhartsreiter and defense attorneys can call him Rockefeller. The judge said he would simply call him "the defendant."

Eleven of the 16 jurors needed for the trial were chosen Tuesday. Judge Frank Gaziano said selection would continue Wednesday with a new pool of potential jurors.

Rockefeller, 48, is accused of snatching his daughter, Reigh, during a supervised visit in Boston in July after losing custody to his ex-wife. He and the girl were found six days later in Baltimore.

Authorities said he planned the kidnapping for months in advance and planned to live quietly with his daughter in a Baltimore condominium he had bought two weeks earlier.

He is accused of grabbing his daughter and putting her into a waiting car, shoving a social worker who was overseeing the visit to the ground and fleeing. The social worker had minor injuries.

The girl's disappearance touched off an international manhunt and a quest by authorities to determine her father's true identity. Eventually, police concluded Rockefeller was actually Gerhartsreiter, a German man who had used multiple aliases since moving to the United States in the late 1970s.

His defense lawyers had argued that he should be addressed only as Clark Rockefeller during the trial because that is the name he has used for more than 15 years and that is the name he was sought under by police when his daughter disappeared. They also argued it would be unfair to call him Gerhartsreiter because he has been charged with, but not convicted of, providing a false name to police.

Many of the jurors who were picked Tuesday told Gaziano they hadn't read or heard anything about the case, which has received extensive media coverage because of his use of the famous oil tycoon's name. Others said they had read about the case, but not formed an opinion about his guilt or innocence and could remain impartial.

The jurors picked so far all appear to be in their 20s or early 30s. They include several college students or recent graduates, a Harvard University professor of special education law and a firefighter.

Some in the jury pool bluntly told the judge they had followed media reports about the case and already had an opinion. "Basically, I think he's guilty," said one woman, who was dismissed.

Several others were dismissed after they said they had read that Gerhartsreiter has been labeled a "person of interest" in the 1985 disappearance and presumed slayings of a newlywed couple from San Marino, Calif. At the time, Gerhartsreiter went by the name of Chris Chichester and was staying in a guest house on the couple's family property. He has denied any role in the couple's disappearance.

Gerhartsreiter's lawyers plan to argue that he suffers from various mental health problems, including bipolar disorder and depression, that make him not criminally responsible.

Several potential jurors were dismissed after they said they were skeptical of the insanity defense.

"I don't believe in the insanity thing," said one man. "I think we're all crazy, and you do what you do."
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