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June 13th, 2009
08:00 AM ET

Split decision

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Christian Gerhartsreiter walks out of courtroom in handcuffs after guilty verdict.

Christian Gerhartsreiter walks out of courtroom in handcuffs after guilty verdict.

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Finally, a verdict in the so called “fake Rockefeller” case. After 26 hours and 27 minutes of deliberations over five days, a Boston, Massachusetts jury found Christian Gerhartsreiter guilty of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, but not guilty of simple assault or furnishing a false identity to law enforcement.

The split decision helps us to understand what took the jury so long to reach its verdict. Put simply, the case wasn’t as simple as it seemed.

First of all, it is not a crime to call yourself a Rockefeller or a Kennedy or anything else for that matter. It only became a crime here when Christian Gerhartsreiter gave the name “Clark Rockefeller” to police. The more serious charge, of course, was kidnapping; and while kidnapping is of course a crime, it was understandably difficult to convict a man for kidnapping his own child.

That leaves the assault and battery with a deadly weapon; and that’s where Gerhartsreiter really ran into trouble because, as relatively benign as this case seems, as compared to all the rapes and murders we cover on cable, there is a real victim here: Howard Yaffee, the social worker who took it on the chin to protect his charge — little Snook’s, the child at the center of this mess.

Add to that, the whole question of insanity — which is never simple and it’s really no wonder the jury was out for so long.

So whatever you think of their verdict, there is no doubt this jury took its time with the facts; these jurors wrestled with the law. There can really be no question that this jury got it right.


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