Lawyers for the Bavarian immigrant who calls himself Clark Rockefeller didn't deny at the opening of his trial today that he kidnapped his 7-year-old daughter last year.
They said he wasn't guilty, however, because he is insane.
"The bulk of my argument is that it doesn't matter what happened," defense attorney Jeffrey Denner told ABC News during a break in the first day of testimony. "It comes down to his state of mind while it was happening."
In his opening statement, Denner told the jury of six men and five women that Rockefeller believed he was communicating telepathically with his daughter and she was telling him she needed to be rescued.
Rockefeller, who is divorced from his wife Sandra Boss, is accused of snatching Reigh "Snooks" Boss during a supervised visit and knocking down the social worker who had been assigned to chaperone the visit.
Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, is a "lunatic savant," Denner told ABC News.
"The man is just a sad sack... He's just a schmuck," Denner said.
"He's not a con man. Con men don't wait 30 years to cash in. It's not like he was selling aluminum siding at a profit. He fell in love wth his daughter. That was all he had," Denner said.
During today's opening statements, Denner referred to his cllient as Rockefeller. Prosecutor David Deakin called him Gerhartsreiter. Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano stuck to "the defendant."
Deakin described a scheming man who romanced his ex-wife and "dazzled" her with "his personality, his charisma, his likability."
"The defendant thinks the rules don't apply to him," Deakin told the jury. "But in a court of law, the rules apply to all of us."
The prosecutor asked the jury to imagine the anguish Boss experienced in the days after Rockefeller grabbed their daughter and disappeared.
"In the next six days she waited in Boston never knowing when or if she would see her daughter again," Deakin said.
He said Rockefeller told fabulous stories about himself, telling Boss he worked restructuring debt for developing nations and explained his lack of money by saying he didn't have the heart to charge for his services. He also claimed his parents had died in a car crash when he was a teenager and said he had attended a program for gifted children at Yale University when he was 14.
Rockefeller Used Alias Since 1993
The two sides battled over their first motion when the defense asked that incriminating statements that Rockefeller made to police and FBI right after his arrest be thrown out because he was not competent at the time.
Dr. James Chu, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that he interviewed Rockefeller for more than two hours and found him competent. The judge is expected to rule on the admissability of Rockefeller's statement Friday.
He has used the name Rockefeller since 1993 and has alternately claimed to be a physicist, art dealer and a mathematician, police said.
Boss, a graduate of Harvard Business School, was so fooled by Rockefeller that when police arrested him, she grabbed a police commander and wanted to know, "Who is he? Did you find out who Clark really is?"
If Rockefeller is not insane, he is certainly odd. FBI profilers noted he does not use metal utensils, will not eat bread unless it is white Pepperidge Farm with the crusts cut off, and that he met Boss at a Clue party where she was dressed as Scarlett O'Hara and he was Colonel Mustard. The two fell for one another while speaking Klingon, the language spoken by some on the TV series "Star Trek."
While in jail, sources told ABC News, Rockefeller tried to send messages to a Boston detective by telling his jailers to read certain pages from the novel "Brideshead Revisted," his favorite book.
Boss divorced Rockefeller in 2007 and gave him $800,000 in a settlement that allowed her ex-husband to see their daughter just three times a year with a social worker present. Reigh was kidnapped on their first visit together.
Boss told investigators she realized Rockefeller was a liar when she hired a forensic investigator to pour through their finances and learned that her husband was broke.
Investigators have since learned Rockefeller is a person of interest in the slayings of a newlywed couple he once lived with at their home in California; that he married a Wisconsin woman and then later fled the state; that he was an exchange student who lived with families in Connecticut; and that he applied for a broker's license using the name Christopher Chichester.
There is currently a grand jury investigation into the unsolved slayings. Denner has asked a judge not to allow jurors to hear about that case or about Rockefeller's other aliases.