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.
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?"