Notes from the Rockefeller case

Clark Rockefeller has been found guilty on two of four counts in his parental abduction trial. Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, will be sentenced later this morning.

So far the jury has issued a statement, as have other officials.

Here’s what Suffolk County DA Spokesman Jake Wark wrote following the verdicts this a.m.:

In a complete rejection of his insanity defense, jurors convicted GERHARTSREITER of custodial kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Jurors acquitted him outright — that is, not for lack of criminal responsibility — on charges of providing a false name to police and assault and battery.  Judge Gaziano will sentence the defendant at 2:00 pm in courtroom 906.

As for the jruors, a panel of four men and eight women. They’ve issued a joint statement. Here’s what it said:


Continue reading

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Deliberation continues in Rockefeller kidnapping case

From the Associated Press:

BOSTON — Jurors deliberating kidnapping charges against the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller asked a judge Wednesday to explain what prosecutors must do to show he was legally sane when he took his 7-year-old daughter.
The jurors sent a written question to Judge Frank Gaziano on Wednesday morning asking if prosecutors have to show either that he knew what he was doing was criminal or that he knew it was morally wrong.
Gaziano told them it is not enough for prosecutors to prove one of those things; they must show both.
The question appeared to show that jurors, who have been deliberating since Monday, are struggling with the legal definition of insanity.
Defense lawyers say Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, was delusional and legally insane when he fled to Baltimore with his daughter, Reigh, during a supervised visit in Boston last July after he lost custody of the girl to his ex-wife.
A psychiatrist who testified for the defense said Gerhartsreiter believed his daughter was
communicating with him telepathically and telling him she needed to be rescued.
Prosecutors call his insanity claim “preposterous” and say he is a con man who planned the kidnapping for months. A prosecution psychiatrist said Gerhartsreiter was not delusional and appeared to exaggerate his symptoms.
Gerhartsreiter, 48, is accused of snatching his daughter during his first visit with the girl after his December 2007 divorce.
He also faces two assault charges for allegedly pushing a social worker overseeing the visit to the ground and instructing his hired driver to “Go! Go! Go!” while the social worker grabbed onto the car door. The social worker suffered minor injuries.
The German-born Gerhartsreiter is also charged with providing a false name to police.
During the trial, several witnesses testified about elaborate tales Gerhartsreiter told during the three decades he has lived in the United States, including his claims of being a physicist, ship’s captain and debt negotiator for small countries.
Prosecutors say he used multiple aliases — including the famous Rockefeller name — to ingratiate himself in wealthy circles in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
California authorities have labeled him a “person of interest” in the 1985 disappearance and presumed slayings of a San Marino couple, Jonathan and Linda Sohus. Gerhartsreiter, who then went by the name Christopher Chichester, was living in a guest house on the family’s property when they disappeared. A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case. He has said he had nothing to do with their disappearance.

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Notes from the trial of “Clark Rockefeller”

I’ve been catching as much coverage of the trial as possible on television, and the witness testimony all seems to have a common thread — Rockefeller’s a liar.

But there are some other interesting glimpses as well. Vanity Fair reporter Mark Seal offered some insight Wednesday with these observations:

He seems relaxed and subdued, really. Not crazed.

Suffolk County DA spokesman Jake Wark has been doing some writing of his own with lively press releases. Here’s an excerpt from today’s media memo, following the testimony of Sandra Boss, Rockefeller’s ex:

Cross-examination of GERHARTSREITER’s second ex-wife is expected to take place tomorrow morning. For planning purposes, his first ex-wife and an FBI print examiner may take the stand thereafter, but this is not set in stone.

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Clark Rockefeller: ready to stand trial

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, stands trial Tuesday morning in Boston on charges stemming from the abduction of his daughter Reigh “Snooks” Boss last summer.

What happens after that is anybody’s guess. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has convened a grand jury looking into allegations that Rockefeller was once Christopher Chichester, lived in San Marino and was the last person to see John and Linda Sohus alive.
The couple vanished in 1985 without a trace. Bones found in the backyard of the Lorain Road home where they lived surfaced in 1994, and they are believed to be those of John Sohus.
Here’ some of the stories cooking on the wire this Memorial Day afternoon:
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Rockefeller/Chichester trial to start Tuesday

This from Suffolk County DA spokesman Jake Wark:

BOSTON, May 22, 2009–The defendant formerly known as “Clark Rockefeller” will go to trial next week, 10 months after he allegedly abducted his daughter from the heart of Boston’s tony Back Bay and led investigators on a manhunt that ended in Maryland but sparked international curiosity as to his true identity.
Jury selection in the trial of CHRISTIAN KARL GERHARTSREITER (D.O.B. 2/21/61), a native of West Germany who most recently lived across from the Boston Public Garden, is scheduled to begin Tuesday. He is charged with parental kidnapping for the July 27, 2008, incident in which he absconded with his daughter, then 7, during a post-divorce visitation supervised by an independent social worker.
Under Massachusetts law, kidnapping a minor relative is a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.
In addition to that lead charge, Gerhartsreiter is also accused of three additional offenses: assault and battery for allegedly shoving the social worker as he hustled his daughter into a waiting sport-utility vehicle driven by an unwitting accomplice; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon – the SUV – for instructing that driver to “go” as the social worker clung to the door handle and fell to the ground, suffering minor injuries; and furnishing a false name to police after his Aug. 2 arrest in Baltimore.
The latter charge, developed in the course of a far-reaching investigation in the Suffolk County Special Grand Jury, reflects the defendant’s identification of himself as “Clark Rockefeller” during an interview with Boston Police detectives and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under Massachusetts law, providing a false name to police for a dishonest purpose carries a one-year jail term.
Gerhartsreiter made off with the young girl shortly before 1:00 on the third day of their first visit following his December 2007 divorce from the child’s mother. The driver who chauffeured them from the scene was allegedly told in advance that the court-ordered social worker monitoring the visit was a “clingy” acquaintance from whom they would have to make a quick escape.
Gerhartsreiter allegedly instructed the driver to drop them off at Massachusetts General Hospital, from where he took a taxi to the Boston Sailing Center. There he met a second unwitting confederate he had promised $500 for a ride to New York City under the pretense of making a Long Island boat launch by 8:00. During the course of that ride, prosecutors say, Gerhartsreiter prevented the driver from using her phone – and learning of the Amber Alert that followed the child’s abduction – by secretly turning it off and overtly telling her not to use it.
From New York, Gerhartreiter made his way to Baltimore, where he had earlier purchased a home with cashier’s checks. He had allegedly identified himself as “Charles Smith” to his realtor and assigned a false name to his daughter as well. On Aug. 1, the realtor recognized Gerhartsreiter from media reports of the abduction and notified the FBI. That notice led rapidly to Gerhartsreiter’s arrest and his daughter’s rescue.
Gerhartsreiter was returned to Boston, arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court on Aug. 5, and ordered held without bail. Following his indictment by the Special Grand Jury, a Suffolk Superior Court clerk magistrate set bail in the amount of $50,000,000; a Superior Court judge later revoked that bail at prosecutors’ request. The defendant has remained in custody since his arrest.
Jury selection is expected to last at least one full day and possibly several days. There will be no court proceedings on May 29. Once a panel of deliberating and alternate jurors is selected, an estimated 10 to 15 days of testimony are expected to follow.
Assistant District Attorney David Deakin, chief of District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau, led the grand jury investigation and is prosecuting the case. Gerhartsreiter is represented by attorneys Jeffrey Denner and Timothy Bradl. Judge Frank Gaziano is presiding over the case in courtroom 906 of the Suffolk County Courthouse, located at Three Pemberton Square in Boston.

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Rockefeller motion to move trial denied in Boston

Clark Rockefeller’s attorneys are worried that pre-trial publicity linking him to the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus from San Marino way back in 1985 might prejudice a jury in Boston.

But a judge in Suffolk County Monday denied a motion by those attorneys seekign a change fo venue.


a copy

of Judge Frank M. Gaziano’s ruling:


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Call him Clark or nothing at all

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter wants to be called Clark Rockefeller at his upcoming trial in Boston on charges of parental abduction. Speaking at a pre-trial hearing in the case, which goes to court on May 26, Rockefeller’s attorney Jeffery Denner said, “We take the position his name is Clark Rockefeller.

Rockefeller, 48, has been named by Los Angeles authorities in the 1985 disappearance of John and Linda Sohus from their home in San Marino. Here’s the latest from the Boston Globe:


Defense attorney Jeffrey Denner indicated today in Suffolk Superior Court that he will try to block prosecutors from referring to his client as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. In the last pre-trial hearing before jury selection starts on May 26, Denner told the judge that he wanted to find a way to refer to his client as Rockefeller during the proceeding.

“We take the position that his name is Clark Rockefeller,” Denner said.

The grand jury indictment, which includes a charge of giving police a fake name, referred to the defendant as Gerhartsreiter. Authorities allege that Rockefeller is one of a string of aliases used by Gerhartsreiter since moving to the United States from his native Germany as an exchange student in the 1970s. California authorities have labeled him a “person of interest” in the disappearance of a San Marino couple in the 1980s. He has not been charged with a crime in that case.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano ordered today that attorneys on both sides file final motions and paperwork in the case by May 18. The trial is scheduled to start May 26.

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Clark Rockefeller wants his case moved out of Boston

From the Boston Herald:

BOSTON — A lawyer for a man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller argued Wednesday that his client’s parental kidnapping trial should be moved from Boston to western Massachusetts because extensive media coverage has tainted the jury pool.
A survey done for the defense found that more than three-quarters of respondents in Suffolk County — where potential jurors would be culled — said they were aware of the case. Of those, roughly half said they believed he was guilty.
“That’s a staggeringly high figure, even for a high-profile case,” said Jeffrey Denner, an attorney for the man whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartstreiter.

Rockefeller is the subject of a Los Angeles County Grand Jury probe into the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus, a San Marino couple, in 1985.

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Grand jury to hear evidence in San Marino mystery

I just posted this story online. Essentially, LA County has opened a grand jury look into the 1985 disappearance of John and Linda Sohus and the 1994 discovery of bones in a San Marino backyard.

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has convened a grand jury investigation into the 1985 disappearance and possible murder of a San Marino couple, officials said Tuesday.

Clark Rockefeller, 48, facing trial in Boston in connection with the abduction of his daughter last July, has been named a person of interest in the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus 24 years ago.

The case became a homicide investigation in May 1994. It was then that bones, believed to be those of John Sohus, turned up in the back yard of the home the couple shared with Rockefeller, then known as Christopher Chichester.

Attorney Jeffrey Denner, who is representing Rockefeller, did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

DA spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said she could neither confirm nor deny that a grand jury had been impaneled in the case. “Those proceedings are secret,” Gibbons said.

At least two handwriting experts have been asked to submit materials for the inquiry, which is being handled by Deputy District Attorney Catherine Brough of the Major Crimes Division, said a source close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified.

One of those experts, Sheila Lowe, said Tuesday she has been asked to submit materials, including a handwriting analysis chart she prepared for this newspaper.

“I have given lots of opinions before and never been called to testify before a grand jury,” Lowe said. “It was quite a surprise.”

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