By Jonathan Saltzman and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
One of the lingering mysteries in the custodial kidnapping case against the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller has long been the defendant's name.
A file photograph of "the defendant."
The accused swears he is, actually, Clark Rockefeller, 48, a man of means and influence from Back Bay. Prosecutors allege that his true identity is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a Bavarian-born con man facing charges that include giving police a false name.
Judge Frank Gaziano found a way today to split the difference as jury selection began in the bizarre and highly anticipated trial in Suffolk Superior Court. He vowed to do his best to refer to the accused simply as "the defendant."
When the case is introduced to the jury, however, Gaziano said he will refer to the defendant the way he was indicted: Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter a.k.a. Clark Rockefeller.
Jury selection stopped this afternoon when 11 people -- six men, five women -- had been chosen for the 16-member panel. The process will continue again on Wednesday to fill the remaining five seats.
The prosecution complained to the judge at one point today that the defense had been working to exclude women from the jury, a group that may have been more likely to empathize with a mother whose daughter had been kidnapped. Likewise, the defense complained that the prosecution had consciously kept men off the panel, a group that may have been more sympathetic to a father who lost custody of his daughter.
Before jury selection began, lawyers vigorously argued both sides of the name debate this morning as the defendant appeared in attire more fitting a cocktail party on a yacht: a Navy blue sport coat with gold buttons, khaki pants, crisp white collared dress shirt, red repp tie, and loafers without socks.
Defense attorney Timothy Bradl told the judge that referring to his client by any name other than Rockefeller would be unfair because it would essentially convict him of the false name charge without a trial.
Witnesses scheduled to take the stand will refer to him by the name he has used since 1981, Bradl said, arguing that "the court ought not let the prosecution prove its case through judicial pronouncements."
"Every one of them is going to say that's Clark Rockefeller," Bradl said of the witnesses. "Everyone knows him as Clark Rockefeller. The only people who are going to be referring to him as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter is your honor and [Assistant Suffolk District Attorney David] Deakin."
The state argued, however, that the defendant entered the country as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, married under that name, got a green card under that name. Prosecutors have fingerprint and other evidence to prove that the defendant is Gerhartsreiter. He began using the name Clark Rockefeller, Deakin said, after making it up "out of full cloth."
Gerhartsreiter is accused of abducting his young daughter on a Back Bay street last July in a crime that made international news. In a separate case, He has also been labeled a "person of interest" in the 1985 disappearance and presumed killings of a California couple, John and Linda Sohus, in San Marino, an affluent Los Angeles suburb.
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